Some friends of ours lost their baby this week.
When I heard things weren’t looking good, I went straight to my knees, surprised by how forcefully I felt the loss. My heart broke. Losing a baby is unthinkably sorrowful. After all a mother sacrifices to carry and bear a child…all done with the conviction that it’s worth it because when it’s over, you get a baby! And now nothing but a long process of recovery and healing—physically and emotionally.
I offered to take portraits of the baby as a service to my friends. I thought that if I were in their shoes, I would want something beautiful to remember my little one with. They accepted my help, but it was one of the hardest things I’ve done professionally.
However, I think it was helpful to celebrate this little one’s beauty and the miracle of the human form. It felt fitting to honor the family in this way. To recognize their achievement and their great loss, but most of all, their hope in the future.
As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we believe in life after this, where families can be together forever. In the book of Matthew, Christ declared to Peter, “And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven.” (Matt 16:19) Our friends have the reassurance of this promise. They have been married in the temple and received a binding promise that they will be together with their family after this life.
I think a lot of people believe that they will be reunited with their family after they die. But let me ask you, if Christ taught that Peter needed the “keys of the kingdom” so that he would have authority to “bind on earth” and in heaven, doesn’t that prove that in order for us to be with our loved ones after this life, we need that same binding promise given by one who has the keys of the kingdom like Peter had? I don’t think any serious bible student can fail to see this discrepancy between societies popular philosophy about the afterlife and God’s declared pattern of authority.
I don’t mean to veer off topic with this discussion into something that sounds like stern religious doctrine, but the truth is, without the binding power described in Matthew, there would be no hope for my friends, no promise of a wonderful reunion with their little one in heaven.
So I want to discuss the doctrine because it is amazing! Because they have been bound (we usually say sealed) in the temple, they have God’s promise that they will be together again! Both of my sweet friends expressed their faith that God would keep His promise to them and they would have their baby again. The joy of this is as poignant as the pain of their loss—possibly even greater.
“Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? …Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:55)
I don’t think I can say it better than that.