CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Grieving with Godly Grief

Oct 26, 2016

Do you grieve with godly grief? Does that which breaks the heart of God break your heart? Are you crushed and overwhelmed by those things which God grieves over? Do you sometimes just lie on your face before Almighty God crying out to him, with no words to offer, only groans from the depths of your being (Romans 8:26)?

If not, why not? If you are not grieving and weeping and groaning in your spirit over what is taking place all around us, you may need to ask God to soften your hard heart. Or you may first need to get saved. Seriously. We do not expect non-Christians to care deeply over things like sin in the world, or judgment to come – but believers certainly should care.

The Bible is full of examples of God’s grief over what happens on planet earth, and of his people sharing in this grief. Both Testaments can be consulted here. Consider simply the prophets. There are numerous passages which speak to this. Let me offer just some of them:

grief-9-Isaiah 22:4 Therefore I said, “Turn away from me; let me weep bitterly. Do not try to console me over the destruction of my people.”
-Isaiah 63:9-10 In all their distress he too was distressed, and the angel of his presence saved them. In his love and mercy he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old. Yet they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit. So he turned and became their enemy and he himself fought against them.
-Jeremiah 4:19-21 Oh my anguish, my anguish, I writhe in pain, oh, the agony of my heart! My heart pounds within me.
-Jeremiah 8:21 Since my people are crushed, I am crushed; I mourn, and horror grips me.
-Jeremiah 9:1 Oh, that my head were a spring of water and my eyes a fountain of tears! I would weep day and night for the slain of my people.
-Jeremiah 9:18 Let them come quickly and wail over us till our eyes overflow with tears and water streams from our eyelids
-Jeremiah 13:17 But if you do not listen, I will weep in secret because of your pride; my eyes will weep bitterly, overflowing with tears, because the LORD’S flock will be taken captive.
-Jeremiah 14:17 Speak this word to them: “Let my eyes overflow with tears night and day without ceasing; for my virgin daughter – my people – has suffered a grievous wound, a crushing blow.”
-Jeremiah 15:17-18 I never sat in the company of revelers, never made merry with them; I sat alone because your hand was on me and you had filled me with indignation. Why is my pain unending and my wound grievous and incurable? Will you be to me like a deceptive brook, like a spring that fails?
-Lamentations 1:16 This is why I weep
and my eyes overflow with tears.
No one is near to comfort me,
no one to restore my spirit.
My children are destitute
because the enemy has prevailed.
-Lamentations 2:11 My eyes fail from weeping,
I am in torment within;
my heart is poured out on the ground
because my people are destroyed,
because children and infants faint
in the streets of the city.
-Lamentations 3:48-51 Streams of tears flow from my eyes
because my people are destroyed.
My eyes will flow unceasingly,
without relief,
until the LORD looks down
from heaven and sees.
What I see brings grief to my soul
because of all the women of my city.
-Ezekiel 9:4 Go throughout the city of Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads of those who grieve and lament over all the detestable things that are done in it.
-Ezekiel 21:6-7 “Therefore groan, son of man! Groan before them with broken heart and bitter grief. And when they ask you, ‘Why are you groaning?’ you shall say, ‘Because of the news that is coming. Every heart will melt with fear and every hand go limp; every spirit will become faint and every leg will be wet with urine.’ It is coming! It will surely take place, declares the Sovereign LORD.”
-Daniel 7:15 I, Daniel, was troubled in spirit, and the visions that passed through my mind disturbed me.
-Amos 6:1, 6 Woe to you who are complacent in Zion, and to you who feel secure on Mount Samaria … but you do not grieve over the ruin of Joseph.
-Micah 1:8 Because of [Israel’s sin] I will weep and wail; I will go about barefoot and naked. I will howl like a jackal and moan like an owl.

And we can mention just one New Testament passage, referring to an Old Testament event: “and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the depraved conduct of the lawless (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)” (2 Peter 2:7-8).

And there is plenty to be grieved about, to be vexed about, to weep over, to mourn about, to be heartbroken over. Let me mention just four recent news items, beginning with the most severe and heartbreaking one

-ISIS terrorists put 250 children through a dough kneader and killed six men by burning them alive in an oven, according to a shocking new report. The sick jihadis killed children, the eldest was just four years old, in an industrial dough kneader in the Syrian town of Duma. In a chilling testimony, one Syrian woman spoke of “Christians being killed and tortured, and of children being beheaded in front of their parents.”
Speaking to Dr Yvette Isaac, from advocacy charity Roads to Success, Alice Assaf said: “Our neighbour came in and said: ‘Umm Issa, they have taken many girls about 300 girls. They were taken to Duma. Many of them were Christians and few were Alawites. “At the bakery, there were six young people who were working there. We knew them. They were burned in the oven, six well-framed men. Then there were 250 children. They were put in the dough mixer, they were kneaded. The oldest one of them was four-years-old.”

-A Christian couple from a Belfast bakery who refused to make a cake supporting gay marriage have told Sky News they felt “victimised”. Speaking in an exclusive interview, Daniel McArthur, who runs Ashers Baking Company with his wife Amy, said: “We never meant to cause anyone any offence, but at the same time, as Christians, we’ve certainly felt victimised by the Equality Commission of Northern Ireland.”
The couple were speaking after losing an appeal against a judgment that they had discriminated against a gay activist.
Mr McArthur said: “We’re disappointed with the way it went. They didn’t consider how much our conscience affects us as Christians, in how we run our business, but we still believe that God is in control.” Sky’s Ireland Correspondent, David Blevins, wondered how they felt about potentially being branded as “discriminatory or homophobic”. “I think whenever we’ve been called those names,” Mr McArthur said, “the people calling them maybe don’t fully grasp the arguments and what’s at stake. Or that as Christians, how our beliefs affect every part of our lives, including running our business, and the decisions that we make in our business.”

-Christian parents in the U.K. are taking legal action against their local council authority after it undermined their parental rights and sided with their 14-year-old daughter who says she wants to transition to become a boy. The Daily Mail reports that the girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told local council officials that she wants to start transitioning to look like a boy. The parents have said that she is too young to be making such decisions, however, and will be meeting with teachers and social workers next month to discuss how the girl should be addressed and treated at school.
The Christian Legal Centre, which will be funding the legal costs for the parents, blamed the “transgender cultural movement” for creating what it called a new “conflict of rights” within the family. Andrea Williams of the Christian Legal Centre said: “This is the emperor’s new clothes. Authorities are forcing an agenda that is not true, and harmful to children. This case demonstrates shocking disregard for parental authority: no one is listening to what the parents want or have to say. They know the child the best, and have the child’s interests at heart.'”

-Halloween can be scary, but it can also be… offensive? The University of Florida wants students to know that counseling is available for students hoping to work past any offense taken from Halloween costumes. “Some Halloween costumes reinforce stereotypes of particular races, genders, cultures, or religions. Regardless of intent, these costumes can perpetuate negative stereotypes, causing harm and offense to groups of people,” the school administration wrote in a blog post. “If you are troubled by an incident that does occur, please know that there are many resources available.”

If these four cases do not grieve you and burden you to pray and seek the face of God – especially the first few – then you may need to ask God to soften your heart. We all need a soft heart, and it is so easy to get calloused and hardened and to simply not care.

Apathy and indifference are sins that we need to repent of, and seek to overcome with God’s help. To paraphrase Amos 6:1, 6: “Woe to you who are complacent in the West, and to you who feel secure in your own homes … but you do not grieve over the ruin of Australia, of America and the West.”

www.express.co.uk/news/world/723942/ISIS-kills-250-children-dough-kneader-burns-men-alive-oven-Syria-Open-Doors-report
news.sky.com/story/bakers-who-refused-to-make-gay-cake-say-they-felt-victimised-10631205
www.christianpost.com/news/christian-parents-warned-14-year-old-daughter-taken-away-banning-gender-transition-171085/
www.cbsnews.com/news/university-of-florida-counseling-students-offended-by-halloween-costumes/

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7 Responses to Grieving with Godly Grief

  • Hi Bill, this is a very strong presentation. It brings to mind a famous passage from Ezekiel. 22:30-31, “And I sought for anyone among them who would repair the wall and stand in the breach before Me on behalf of the land, so that I would not destroy it; but I found no one. Therefore I have poured out my indignation before them; I have consumed them with the fire of My wrath; I have returned their conduct upon their heads, says The Lord God.” For a country that has long been known as The Great South Land of The Holy Spirit, I wonder how much longer God is going to tolerate the moral degradation that is unfolding in Australia. The Old Testament in particular goes into great detail on the judgements that were inflicted on Israel despite vigorous warnings from the prophets that were repeatedly ignored. If we had the ability to ask Amos how he viewed Australia today, would he again describe his vision of “the basket of summer fruits” and God’s response? I commend you Bill for a very sobering and thought provoking essay, God Bless, Kelvin.

  • You may already know, Bill, that a few of the UK papers have roundly condemned the Northern Ireland judges’ decision re the Asher bakers. I must admit I was a little surprised to see both the Telegraph and the Guardian coming down against the LGBT, but perhaps now the truth is slowly beginning to dawn that freedom of speech goes in more directions than just bowing to homosexuals. I had not realised the Ashers were quite young people until I read the Christian.org.uk report…they have had a horrible time and it’s still not over, but at last more than one MSM report has admitted that it is not right to force people to associate with causes they disagree with.
    Your other stories (especially the first) are horrendous; I don’t know how and what will eventually sort ISIS out, but I know who will….we have to keep praying.

  • And despite the horrendous things done against Christians and other non-Muslims in the Middle East the Labor party and the Democrats in the U.S. still maintain that we cannot consider religion when determining refugee status. You and I know well that if the groups being persecuted were Buddhists or whatever and not Christians the Labor Party’s view would be very different.

  • Thank you for this whole article Bill. It causes hope in my heart – someone is willing to say this.

  • Praying for God to soften your heart is certainly good advice, but if you need a little extra help, check out the video at this link. If it doesn’t at least provoke a tear or two, you are beyond all help. Most beautiful thing I’ve seen in ages.

    http://www.sbs.com.au/news/thefeed/article/2016/10/24/he-looks-sadness-and-turns-it-upside-down-12-yr-old-campbell-makes-teddy-bears

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