Over the past year, several friends have experienced the heartbreaking tragedy of losing a child during the third trimester of pregnancy.
My wife and I recently experienced the birth of our second child, and part of me feels guilt when I read these heart wrenching stories of my friends who have suffered such loss. They in no way deserve what they’ve been through, but the way that they have held on to their faith, each of them, has been a great example of testimony towards the great plan of salvation that God has for each of his children, mortal and deceased.
But why would God allow such tragedy? What are we to learn from it?
The Prophet Joseph Smith taught the following:
“This world is a very wicked world; and it … grows more wicked and corrupt. … The Lord takes many away, even in infancy, that they may escape the envy of man, and the sorrows and evils of this present world; they were too pure, too lovely, to live on earth; therefore, if rightly considered, instead of mourning we have reason to rejoice as they are delivered from evil, and we shall soon have them again.”1
Wilford Woodruff, the fourth president of the Church, taught,
“… The question may arise with me and with you—“Why has the Lord taken away my children?” But that is not for me to tell, because I do not know; it is in the hands of the Lord, and it has been so from the creation of the world all the way down. Children are taken away in their infancy, and they go to the spirit world. They come here and fulfill the object of their coming, that is, they tabernacle in the flesh. They come to receive a probation and an inheritance on the earth; they obtain a body, or tabernacle, and that tabernacle will be preserved for them, and in the morning of the resurrection the spirits and bodies will be reunited, and as here we find children of various ages in a family, from the infant at the mother’s breast to manhood, so will it be in the family organization in the celestial world. Our children will be restored to us as they are laid down if we, their parents, keep the faith and prove ourselves worthy to obtain eternal life; and if we do not so prove ourselves our children will still be preserved, and will inherit celestial glory. This is my view in regard to all infants who die, whether they are born to Jew or Gentile, righteous or wicked.”2
In summary, it is the will of God the Eternal Father to send his most choice and righteous children to this earth, so they can obtain a body only to be enjoyed in the resurrection. It isn’t part of his great plan for these children to suffer the wickedness of this world.
This is only made possible through the atonement and resurrection of Jesus. He opened the door for all of us to once again obtain our bodies in a perfect and immortal state when we pass away from this earth.
God loves us, I have no doubt. And after studying and contemplating why little children are taken from us so quickly I’ve come to better understand this — God also loves our children, and our children our not ours alone. They are His children, too. I have no doubt that the love we have for our children is only a fraction of the love our Heavenly Father has for us, and to know that helps me to trust in His will and timing.
“But little children are alive in Christ, even from the foundation of the world; if not so, God is a partial God, and also a changeable God, and a respecter to persons…”3
1 History of the Church, 4:553–54
2 Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Wilford Woodruff, (2011), 77–88
3 Moroni 8:12 (Emphasis added)