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There is a sad story in the Old Testament about the death of King David’s infant son. When the baby became ill, David fasted, prayed and wept for six days. On the seventh day, David’s servants came with the anguished news, “He is dead.” David’s response is remarkable.
David replied, ‘I fasted and wept while the child was alive, for I said, “Perhaps the LORD will be gracious to me and let the child live.” But why should I fast when he is dead? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him one day, but he cannot return to me.’” – 2 Samuel 12:22- 23 (NLT)
This passage came to my mind last night upon hearing the shocking news of the death of baby Azaiah DeGarmo, the 2 month old son of my friends Dan and Serena DeGarmo. I read this morning the Doctors said, “His heart just stopped beating.”
While Norma Jean and I did not get to see little Azaiah, it was especially personal and painful to us since we were with the DeGarmo’s just a week before his birth. They graciously opened their home and extended their hospitality with Serena being nine months pregnant. Dan spoke with excitement of their coming child. His name would be Azaiah. “It’s a Hebrew name,” he explained, which means “my strength is Yahweh.”
Ironically, their son’s very name is that which will provide the greatest help, hope and comfort during these difficult days. But it raises the question, “How?” How does someone deal with the sudden death of a child with courage like King David did.
Let me offer a few short thoughts.
(1) Comfort comes through communion God. David experienced comfort through God’s presence. Psalm 9 may have been written during this painful period in David’s life. In it He speaks of God’s sanctuary during trying times.
The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed,
A refuge in times of trouble.
And those who know Your name will put their trust in You;
For You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.
David found comfort through prayer, meditation and fellowship with Jehovah. I know Dan and Serena. They are people of prayer. They will too.
2. Because David communed with God, he found peace to ease his pain. He wrote in Ps 4:8. “I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; For You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.
I’m sure it’s difficult for the non-believer to understand how peace can be experienced in times of turmoil, when your heart is breaking and you feel so weak and vulnerable. Yet it is so.
Paul speaks of the “peace which exceeds anything we can understand.” (Phil 4:7). God can provide peace in the most difficult circumstances. In the most trying times. In the most severe situations.
(3) Because David enjoyed fellowship with God he could see through the veil of tears a greater purpose in the child’s short life.
David penned, “I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me. (PS 57:2, ESV)
God gives life. There is a time to be born. A time to die. We are not in control of either. But regardless of the length of life, it is sacred. Holy. And blessed by God. It has worth. Dignity. And purpose.
Just as I believe there was purpose in the short life of David’s son, I am just as convinced that God had a purpose for baby Azaiah. It his short stay, he gloried God. Through his parents and siblings, he will magnify his Maker.
(4) Because David experienced companionship with Jehovah, he could hold on to the hope of heaven.
We don’t know how much the ancients knew about eternity, but there is evidence they had some insight. David expressed it. “I cannot bring him back, but I can go to him!”
What confidence! What hope! What assurance! David knew that his child was now in a place of safety. Security. Solace. And David believed that he too would rejoin his baby boy on the other side.
Along with Dan and Serena, we share in that hope. We live in that assurance. We believe in that promise. The promise of a brighter day. A happier home. A better body.
To our good friends, Dan and Serena DeGarmo, who like David, are people “after God’s own heart,” we extend our deepest sympathy. And offer heart-felt empathy. But we rejoice in your faith. Your hope. And your love. May God bless you and your family, as only He can, in the days to come.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman