Monday, July 15, 2013

Fragment Wisdom and Stillborns

I will briefly mention the fragments of Papias found in the ancient Christian era.  Very little is left of his writing, and the few fragments make little sense.  The first one is really good: "I did not take pleasure in those who spoke much, but in those who taught the truth; nor in those who related strange commandments, but in those who rehearsed the commandments given by the Lord to faith."

Even today, people say sound-bytes and one-liners of wisdom that seem sweet and memorable.  They speak much, but do they really live the truth?  Do the words provide a band-aid to life or do they actually help?

So, I will transition from Papias and the things he almost said, to people today and what they should not say when an infant dies.  Or a child, or a miscarriage happens, or a baby is stillborn.  My heart aches for people I know who just had a stillborn pregnancy, and well-meaning people will say all kinds of things.  Just like the Papias fragments, they can be good, they seem pretty harmless, but it might not be getting all the information right.  Again, I present fragments to not say when a young person dies.

"God needed him more than we did."  No, God needs nothing.  If I am on earth, it is because it gives God glory.  If someone I love is in heaven, it still gives God glory.  God needs nothing and and we need him to survive.  Heaven is more life than what we see on earth.  I hate that young people are taken from us, but it is not because God decided that he'd rather have that person now and would like to deprive us.  He just sees the big picture that we don't see and will work all things for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose.

"God is teaching us a lesson."  No, God is not a crooked teacher.  He does not cause tragedy to teach lessons.  He is not some abuser.  He orchestrates all of life according to his glory.  Granted, we do learn from tragedies, but we also live in a fallen world.  We don't need any lessons.

"There's one more angel in heaven."  No, your child is precious, but he or she is not an angel now.  You would not want him to be one.  Angels are beings that serve God as utilities and just happen to be alive, too.  Humans are created in God's image.  Angels will never know forgiveness and mercy.  God does not stop lavishing his grace and mercy on his undeserving humans.  Your child is not an angel, but what he or she is, you will like a lot better.

"What if the child turned out like the severely disabled boy next door?"  Um, I know all kinds of people.  They have cerebral palsy, Down's Syndrome, developmental problems, and some people will not be able to function independently in this life.  So, what if your child turns out like them?  Could anybody tell me what's wrong with those things?  Are my problems any better?  Are you any better off?  People with severe disabilities are a blessing and teach their caregivers that there is a world outside themselves.  Definitely mourn the loss of your child, but do not be afraid of him developing some disability.  All problems are different and all work together for God's glory.

I can't think of any more right now, but I would love to hear other things people should not say in tragedies.

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