Grief and Glory
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.
2 Corinthians 4:17
There is something that far outweighs baby loss. This statement is tremendously difficult to believe because this experience is weighty.
If you are like me, this is how you feel:
This is the weightiest experience of your life. You were not prepared in advance for the loss of your child. This child was within you; his or her body could grow because yours sustained him or her. And so, when your child ceased to grow or your child’s heart ceased to beat, in a sense, you ceased too. The physical cause for your child’s life to end, whether explained or unexplained, seems to have seeped into your own body. Even if you may not like to think about it or talk about it, death has become a new kind of reality to you.
Death was something distant—a sorrowful concern for the elderly and terminally ill, and perhaps something for you later. But the end of your life seemed so far off that it did not often cross your mind. But death was never imagined for your child. Now this has all changed. Never could this reality be imagined in advance: that death could look like this—a covering for a baby. And, in a way, you know you will live with death for the rest of your life.
Have you felt like this too? I am grieved anyone else ever has, but I know this to be shared.
So, how is baby loss possibly “light and momentary” when you know that your life will never be the same, never be what it once was or would have been? The weight is crushing, never light. The days are dim because you are living with death as a part of your life. The emotions that grief involves resemble the moment of loss: uncontrollable. “Momentary” has no home in your vocabulary about grief and longing. Sorrowfully, the only way you know how to apply that word to your circumstances is concerning your child’s earthly life. Right in these circumstances is when this passage is to be read—this is not a minute too soon: “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:17).
What this passage communicates is striking, and it must not be missed. If these days of baby loss can be considered “light and momentary,” then can you imagine how valuable, weighty, beautiful, and lasting heaven will be? Scripture calls for no exceptions here. Baby loss due to miscarriage, stillbirth, or loss after birth are included in the scope of this verse. Compared to heaven, this is light. This is momentary.
The believer’s ultimate reality exists in another glorious place. Oh yes, and it is far better too—gloriously better. Some consider the Scriptural concept of glory to be derived from weight, heaviness, and gravity. The “glory” of heaven is perhaps connected with “weight,” as in “weight of splendid worthiness.” In a manner that cannot even be compared with earth and earthly sorrows, heaven is replete with this profound worth. When this life loses meaning, by comparison the next one will have infinite meaning. When this life loses depth, by comparison the next one will have infinite depth. When this life is fragile and fleeting, the next life is infinitely stable. It has this “weight.” We will need to be remade—glorified—to survive the superlative worthiness of this place where we, who believe, are destined to live. So, when you cast your expectations upon the place that is to come—expectations that your experience not hold these kind of tears, this kind of emptiness and longing, this kind of loss—do not for a moment fear that heaven will bend or buckle from the pressure of your rising expectations. You cannot cast any expectation of goodness there that is not already planned for you and, I have the hope, that is not already experienced by your child.
When your circumstances have revealed to you how sorrowful life on this earth can be, then, suddenly, those expectations for the next life do build and build. When you know the depths of what child loss feels like, when you know all of the wrong that must be made right, all of the hurt that must be overcome, and the burden of death to overthrow, then you have a deeply-felt, personal need for heaven to be good, perfect, and true. Considering these rising expectations and needs, you are as prepared as possible to appreciate heaven. That is right. This very minute when your requirements for the next life are mounting is the very time when you can best appreciate that heaven will not disappoint you. Scripture promises that heaven will deliver. It will withstand the weight. In fact, it will more than withstand it. You do not even know how to hope for all that heaven will be. Heaven will greatly supersede all of your hopes.
Eternal glories will outweigh this most weighty experience of your life. And you, child of the living God, will experience it such that when you are there in that great, future day, you will agree with the Scriptures that the earthly loss of your baby was, indeed, “light and momentary” by comparison. Heaven is heavy with everything good. As my parents once encouraged me, this truth of Scripture does nothing to minimize the intensity of the loss that you have now experienced. Rather, it does everything to maximize within the deepest part of the heart, the marvelous reality that is to come through Christ.
The truth of a future glory does not bring your baby back to you, but it will bring you to your baby. Is the view of heaven not greatly expanded when contrasted with the darkness of baby loss?
Your child’s story, and, believer, your story, are connected to this beautiful light of heaven. Like strands of a tapestry, it is woven securely, solidly into your life’s story. You have a sure hope that goes around the corner of this world to heaven, or, in the words of Scripture, “a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain” (Hebrews 6:19). Your soul is anchored to a different world—the best, glorious world that is just behind the curtain of this world.
Let this settle within—this truth of heaven—and consider what it means to live now in view of its glorious reality. It is a truth made to be swallowed soundly, to reach where it will reside always. It feeds the soul; it shapes the soul; it transforms you. And it burns within you all of your days to keep you warm in its golden light. The light of truth can never be taken from you. When thinking of light, take a look at the view you have from around the corner of this life into the next. Look at the light that shines.
It is Jesus.
The light of the world where your baby lives, and the light that keeps you forever warm is Jesus Christ. “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6). Every thread woven into your life that shines through this darkness with hope is because of Him. That anchor that secures your soul to the glorious place behind the curtain of this world was given to you because you have a representative there who has spoken your name with His sacrifice and reserved your seat with His resurrection. Your representative is Jesus Christ. For He “has gone as a forerunner on our behalf” (Hebrews 6:20). There may be, today, questions surrounding the name of Jesus in your mind and heart. Will you ever pray for another request again? Will you ever be able easily remember Him as good again? There may be many more. So, perhaps your view of Him has been obscured; sorrow has come as a dark storm cloud, blocking the sun.
But His light can shine through the darkest cloud. He has defeated death. You will one day experience a life that lasts always, when death does not loom and is not feared. He made possible this bright beacon of a heavenly future. In fact, He is the glorious, worthy “weight” of heaven.
We cast all of our expectations onto heaven when this life is loss, and we can cast more there too. Through faithfully testifying of true hope in Christ during sorrow—this is heavenly purpose—it is as if we somehow heap more worthy weight onto our future glory. From this life, we will take with us into the next all that has been for Him. And it all matters. That is why Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20, “For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? Indeed, you are our glory and joy.” In the apostle Paul’s ministry, while using the gifts that God gave him, Paul’s words were of lasting and eternal impact in the lives of other people, saving them from sin and damnation. This is what Paul will “glory in” in the presence of the Lord. It is what he will find from this earth worthy of the weight of heaven. What has mattered, eternally-speaking, in others’ lives for Jesus Christ is something he will find profoundly relevant from his experience on earth while in the presence of the Lord forever.
Thrust all of your hopes—needy hopes and gloriously purposeful hopes—onto heaven. Believe that this, the earthly loss of your child, has not been your defining moment. You have been defined by Him, in love, who has given you an eternal glory that is worth infinitely more than this indescribably heavy loss. When you lean with all of yourself there, you will find the incredible meaning and purpose that runs through the Word of God. Your arms that ache for your child, even while they ache with emptiness, are the very arms you can use to point others to Him and His Word, suffering well—suffering with purpose.
So, does this heavenly perspective not change the way we grieve? When we grieve with hope, it means that we grieve with purpose. The shining threads of glory that He weaves into our lives securely are what we now can weave into the lives of others.
Can this purpose only be shared by those who write a book or start a memorial fund or do something that seems “big”? No, this purpose is not found in a particular position, ministry, or work, as if those are the object of the goal. Instead, your beautiful purpose to seek this minute is your own personal faithfulness to the Lord of heaven and earth. That is what throws you with joy into the One who has given you an incredible future and a worthy purpose on earth, without whom you would have no hope, either for this life or the one to come. Then out of your personal faithfulness to Him, see what He will bring.
This hope and purpose are your joy. Greatly rejoicing in what is ahead means that there is to this pain and longing a very sure ending with a very sure purpose. Though we do not yet know what it is to experience the glorious “weight” of heaven, we do know that it is real. From what we have considered in Scripture, we know that what we experience now is “light,” “momentary,” and for a “little while.”
Out of this experience of loss, you hold this glowing and solid thread of purpose that is replete with eternal glory. It can be in your hands, wrapped securely around your heart, and informing of your perspectives and all of your purposes this day. You can hope: you will have Him fully in that future day. And, know this, you have Him right now too as you wait. He is your Light. He is not only shining there as your glorious future, but shining here. As surely as He is the beautiful light of heaven, He is also the light of this world. As surely as the light of His heaven pierces through your darkest cloud of grief, so surely, His light will shine on your path to show you the way through this grief. Only hold to the Christian purpose found in having a heavenly perspective. Seeking faithfulness to God and His Word can never lead you the wrong way; you will only be surrendering your story and your child’s story to better hands, weightier hands than yours.
 Carpenter, Eugene E., and Philip W. Comfort. Holman Treasury of Key Bible Words: 200 Greek and 200 Hebrew Words Defined and Explained. Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000.