Is My Baby In Heaven?

I have referenced a number of times that Arthur is in heaven. Believing this was extremely helpful to get me through the second half of my pregnancy with him, to enjoy his birth and time with us, and to experience peace even as I grieve his passing. It is a very comforting thing to me.

But is it true? Does the Bible support this?

If it is not, then I have no basis for this hope that I will see my son again. It’s just something that sounds nice. It’s just wishful thinking.

But I am convinced that it is. It is one of the things in this journey that has given me hope.

I know it to be true from my own study of what God says in the Bible, but it was extremely helpful for me to read a book by John MacArthur called, Safe In The Arms Of God. Writing to both families who have gone through child loss and those who are helping them, he walks through Scripture to show God’s mercy and tenderness towards babies, children and those mentally incapable of distinguishing between right and wrong. He acknowledges that while saying babies go to heaven when they die sounds comforting and helpful, it actually isn’t if it is not true. I do not have the space here to dive into all the details that MacArthur does. I will leave that for you to read in his book (if you are someone who has lost a child, or if you know someone who has, I highly, HIGHLY encourage you to read this book). But I would like to share some of what has given me confidence in my grief that I will see him again.

According to the Bible, all people are born in sin. As sinners we stand under the righteous judgment of God. But God’s Word also reveals One who lived without sin yet died for the sins of others. And it promises forgiveness and eternal life with God (heaven) to anyone who through faith embraces Jesus’s perfectly righteous life and sacrificial death on their behalf, and strives with God’s help to live in a way that pleases Him. Those that don’t acknowledge and submit to Jesus are left with the penalty of their sin still upon them, and are destined for God’s eternal judgment (hell). But what about babies, born and unborn, and little ones and others who cannot understand and embrace these promises from God?

There is not a verse in the Bible that directly says, “All babies go to heaven.” But I believe that by looking at the biblical narrative – that is, the entire story of the Bible, from the very beginning all the way to the last book – we can see that it is completely consistent with the character of God for Him to grant little children that die to be with Him in eternity. And there are numerous examples throughout Scripture that support this belief. No one is saved from judgement outside of the work of Jesus, but I believe God extends much mercy to those who die in the womb and in the early years in this life.

There is a story in the Old Testament about King David and his baby, a son, who died just a few days after he was born. David slept with another man’s wife, had the man killed, and the woman (Bathsheba) became pregnant. David is confronted with his sin by the prophet Nathan. He is remorseful and repentant, but there are still consequences to his actions, one of them being that this illegitimate son will die shortly after birth. David pleaded to the Lord to spare the child’s life. He even fasted. But the child died seven days after birth. David’s response is an interesting one:

Then David arose from the earth and washed and anointed himself and changed his clothes. And he went into the house of the LORD and worshiped. He then went to his own house. And when he asked, they set food before him, and he ate. Then his servants said to him, “What is this thing that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive; but when the child died, you arose and ate food.” He said, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept, for I said, ‘Who knows whether the LORD will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.” (2 Samuel 12:20-23 ESV)

I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.

What does this mean? His son would not return to him in this life, but he would go to his son, being reunited with him after his own death. Was King David destined for heaven? While he sinned greatly, he repented of his sins and he is described as “a man after [God’s] heart” (Acts 13:22). When you read his writings, you can see David has a love for God and an understanding of his final destination.

Job, a righteous man who experienced both the best this life has to offer and the worst (he lost all his children and his possessions), says it would be better to have been stillborn, for him to have gone straight from his mother’s womb to being at rest with God, having skipped all the suffering this present world has in it (Job 3:11-19; 10:18-19).

Jesus himself was especially fond of children during His earthly ministry, and used them as an analogy as he taught his disciples about dependency on God:

Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” And he laid his hands on them and went away. (Matthew 19:13-15 ESV)

MacArthur writes in response to this passage: “‘But’, you may say, ‘ Jesus was only using the children as an analogy for the way adults are converted and become a part of the kingdom of God.’ Let me quickly point out to you that an analogy works only if it is rooted in truth! If children are not readily and fully received into the kingdom of heaven, the analogy to spiritual conversion would be a very poor one. As it is, the analogy is a great one! Children are readily accepted into the kingdom, and because of that, we are wise to become like children in our spiritual dependency upon the Lord so that we, too, might be readily accepted.”

If all this is true (and I believe that it is), then heaven is FULL of babies and children.

Arthur is in heaven.

Arthur’s anencephaly baby friends are in heaven.

The baby that you miscarried is in heaven.

Your baby with an unexplained stillborn or SIDS death is in heaven.

All the babies and toddlers you read about in the news killed in tragic accidents are in heaven.

The 59 million babies who have been killed in this country since the Roe v. Wade decision are in heaven.

What a wonderful existence they all have right now.

Just as important as the question “Is my baby is heaven?” is “Am I going to heaven when I die?” If my baby is going to be there and I am not, that would be an even greater tragedy than losing Arthur shortly after birth – being separated from God for eternity and never getting to see my son again. It is not by my own works or by my strength that I get to heaven. I know my own heart to know I can’t get there on my own, nor do I deserve it. All I must do is believe:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. (John 3:16-17 ESV)

My confidence only lies in the work Jesus has done for me. My trust lies in Him, not me. By His power alone, I know I will be brought safely to heaven.

And I. CAN’T. WAIT. to get there.

My soul is anchored in my heavenly home, because of my Jesus, and my gaze is ever more fixed upon it because of my Arthur.

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This is a beautiful watercolor painting made for us by Sara White, who goes to our church and as a college student was involved with Campus Outreach, the ministry we work for. A comforting gift and cherished piece of artwork!

The Blessing Stocking Gift

At Christmas, we had a stocking for Arthur. You can read about that here. Family members contributed to it and I recently took the monetary gifts to put toward a cause in Arthur’s name.

If you look back at pictures we have with Arthur, he wore a few different hats in his time here with us. They were made with love by a woman who volunteers her time and talents to make these sweet gifts for families carrying a child with anencephaly. In our package, we received hats for him, and there were also a few things for Adele – some stickers and a book about heaven. It was amazing to receive a gift like that from a stranger and brought us much comfort during those hard days as we prepared for his arrival. She does these gift packages when she has supplies on hand. I thought it would be a great way for Arthur to get to bless other babies with his condition in this manner.

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This was one of our favorite hats and Arthur spent the most time in this one. My cute little snowflake!

So last week, I went out to the craft store and bought some supplies with the gift money to go with the items that some family members had already given. Adele (kind of) helped me pick out yarn colors, charms for the hats, and some stickers. We ordered as many What About Heaven? books as were in stock on Amazon at the time. I packaged it all up, sent it out, and it arrived at it’s destination this week. I felt so giddy and excited to do it. I am so thankful Arthur’s life is continuing to bless me as it is blessing others.2016.01.20_014 copy

You can check out Anencephaly Hope on Facebook to see what you can do to help!

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Most of what goes toward the gifts Lisa makes, but I wanted to give something to her. She calls her ministry Anencephaly Hope. And hope being a major theme of my blog posts, plus having a little crafting itch, I made this. I kind of want one for myself – because this journey with a boy with anencephaly has brought about hope for me in the things to come.

1 Month

A month. It’s been a month.

What makes me so sad about Arthur not being here is all the things we will miss getting to do with him, particularly as we hit milestones. I had a lot of fun with Adele in her first year of life photographing her and seeing her grow. If you’ve been friends with me since she was born, you should remember the weekly pictures next to the frog. And her monthly picture in the small chair**. We will miss out on so many things, and not just in this first year. I suspect this will continue to be this way in varying degrees until my own death.

*Sigh*

While I think about these things a lot, I try not to stay there. One of the ways I am trying to cope with my grief is not by dwelling on all the mothering I don’t get to do with him, but by finding ways to mother him that will honor him and celebrate his life – what was and what is. Milestones can be hard for parents who have lost a child. But establishing traditions and making attempts to incorporate your child in the life of your family can be extremely helpful in healing after loss. As we returned home from the holidays, I decided it would be good for me to celebrate Arthur each month. I wanted to include Adele too. But I got stuck for a while, not knowing which day to celebrate. We were blessed with an amazing gift of time with Arthur. He spent 2 days with us after he was born, hours we had not expected to have with him. He was born on December 8th. And he died on December 10th. Which one do I celebrate? The day that he was born was an awesome day. The day he passed was the saddest day of my life, but it marks one month of heavenly bliss in the arms of God. Celebrate his earthly birthday or his heavenly one? Like I said, I was stuck here for a few days, feeling both dates were significant enough to celebrate. Finally an idea came to me that could include both.

This Friday, I drove Adele to buy Baby Arthur a birthday balloon. We got it on his one month birthday. It felt good to talk about him with her and it was good for me to go purchase something for his birthday (although the balloon man was kind to us and gave it to us for free, all without hearing our sob story). We brought the balloon home and it stayed with us through the weekend. Today, Sunday the 10th, we went outside before it got too dark and we released the balloon to the sky – celebrating, with Arthur, his first month in heaven.

So here’s to new traditions for this year. Here’s to missing you, celebrating you, and looking forward to my heavenly home, Arthur. Happy Birthday(s), sweet boy!

 


 

Thank you for continuing to pray for our family. I have no explanation for how we have come through the last few months and are still standing, other than God has been at work – strengthening us through His Presence, answering hundreds maybe thousands of prayers, and showing us through tangible ways (usually through people) that He loves us. If you have done anything – sent a message, a gift, a meal – you have been an agent of comfort and you are an important part of this story.

While I think we are doing ok, things remain hard. While we are hopeful, our hearts ache. Some days I think I am doing fine, then out of no where, grief and longing hits. Walking by the newborn nursery is hard. Seeing mothers carrying their babies, particularly boys is tough. If you think of us, please continue to pray for us as we move forward into this new year. It is my hope this year to continue to share Arthur with you and the lessons we are learning in the grieving process.


 

**This post is not about Adele, but as I wrote today, I couldn’t help but go back and look. Here’s the montage of her monthly pictures, how cute is she?!

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Arthur’s Birthday Photos

I have mentioned a few times on here about Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep. This network trains and mobilizes photographers in the work of providing professional remembrance photography for families experiencing the untimely death of a child or a fatal diagnosis. This is free of charge to the families that receive them. Back when we were given Arthur’s diagnosis, I got in contact with the Charlotte area coordinator for NILMDTS. Fortunately for us, we had time to plan for Arthur’s arrival knowing he wouldn’t be with us long. Some families have no warning. But regardless of the circumstances, these photographers provide their valuable services and products for free, as gifts to grieving families. Not only that, but they give up time, as they are on call to come to the hospital with little or no notice to serve.

Our photographer came to the hospital shortly after Arthur was born, from a Christmas production involving her kids. Arthur was born at 10:20pm and she stayed with us into the early morning hours of the 9th of December. We are so grateful for the sacrifices she made to capture these first precious moments with our son. While he is no longer with us, the memories we have from these photos will help us to look back and remember our time with him.

A little part of me wondered how I would feel once I saw him, mainly the effect of his condition. I can assure you, I saw nothing but beauty in this boy from the moment he was placed on my chest. I love these photos. To me, they capture the love that we felt for Arthur and for one another in those first moments after seeing him for the first time. We hope that you enjoy them too.

If you are a professional photographer, I would highly encourage you to look into volunteering your photography services and serve your community this way with your talent. You can play an important role in helping families heal after child loss. You can be a source of light to families during the darkest time in their lives.

If you are not a photographer, but would like to help NILMDTS, I would encourage you to donate here.

*Photos by Faith Massey – Images By Faith

2015

As the clock struck midnight, taking us from 2015 to 2016, I spent it probably like most parents of young children would. Asleep. Rest, recovery, and relaxation have marked my holiday season, and it’s what I’ve needed.

I don’t know about you – maybe you are ready to put 2015 behind you, hoping for better things for the coming year. Or maybe the past year was full of mostly happy things launching you confidently into 2016. I’m not entirely sure how to think on either, both looking back and looking forward. I look back with mixed feelings, probably because I felt the whole gamut of feelings one could feel and I can’t sum it up in a concise way.

2015 didn’t go as I had planned.

In 2015, I buried a child.

2015 brought more tears than I’ve ever cried before.

In 2015, the rubber met the road in regards to my beliefs about God.

In 2015, the Bible came alive to me – words leaping off the page and touching untapped places in heart.

In 2015, I experienced the Church being what the Church is meant to be to a member in need.

2015 made me long for intimate presence with God and for eternity more than I ever have.

In 2015, I delighted much in my daughter.

In 2015, my love for my husband deepened and intensified.

In 2015 I chose life.

In 2015, I experienced joy in the deepest sorrow.

2015 brought me hope.

2015 was full. It was the year of this special boy who turned our world upside down and took a piece of our hearts with him. Part of me doesn’t want time to move on, because I will move farther away from the time we had with Arthur. But the past few days, part of me is ready to move forward, because each day, each month, each year will be another one closer to seeing him again. It’s a paradox really. While I move farther away from him, I move closer to him and the arms of my Heavenly Father.

As I think on God’s goodness in the hardest time of my life so far, it gives me hope for whatever 2016 will bring. Maybe it will be lots of physical blessings, health and happiness. 2016 might hold more hard things ahead. I only have the capacity to think a day at a time right now, but as I let my mind ponder the uncertainty of what might come ahead, I know this and it gives me a confident hope: Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). Whether the year brings blessings or troubles, He is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and he knows those who take refuge in him (Nahum 1:7).

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Photo by Faith Massey