The sorrow of the Lord

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God's expression of sorrow in Jeremiah

I have been reading in Jeremiah for the past two days.  I have been struck by the strong emotional language and imagery the Lord used to describe how he felt about Israel and Judah’s fall from grace.   That same language was not present in Isaiah.

Some people think of the old testament as just one long angry rant with the killing hordes of people but in fact it is full of passion and pathos.  Atheistic comedians usually focus on the angry parts.  That’s all they need to reject God but their lives are far from happy and satisfied.  Many died miserably.

8:18 “I would comfort myself in sorrow; My heart is faint in me.”

8:21 “For the hurt of the daughter of my people I am hurt.
I am mourning; Astonishment has taken hold of me.”

9:1 “Oh, that my head were waters, And my eyes a fountain of tears,
That I might weep day and night For the slain of the daughter of my people!”

10:19-20 “Woe is me for my hurt! My wound is cords are broken; My children have gone from me.”

I’ve read Jeremiah before, several times of the course of my life, but this time these words strike a more sombre note in my heart about how God feels.

Perhaps it is because I am myself in a season of pain and suffering for a loved one, who has gone astray spiritually, choosing anger, resentment, sin and bitterness instead of pursuing God and his will.

I have cried many tears at night, in the morning, during the day.  There are days where it is heavier and others not so heavy.  My chief concern is for their future with God more than anything else.

I’ve heard people say “God cries” and “God hurts” but he’s so big and there are so many people that I often wondered about the depth of the tears and hurts.  It didn’t resonate with me but I accepted it at face value.  Now I read the words in the verses and the depth of the sorrow has become comprehensible at an emotional level.

I see the genuineness of the pain and suffering expressed in the words because while it is felt and there is great sorrow it is because the holiness of God cannot excuse the sin.  Consequences must ensue.  Patience had been there for hundreds of years but the sin grew so grievous that severe consequences are unavoidable.  If only they had listened to the good, they would not be dead and their relationship with God would not be lost forever. 

I see it in the light of a father or mother who says to a rebellious loved one that they are in danger but the warning is ignored and later they see the loved one dead somewhere in dreadful circumstances.  The heart would rip.  The loss of the precious relationship is doomed forever.

I’ve wailed at the thought of this loved one in another city, alone, cold and destitute because of an unwillingness to let go of past hurts and grievances.  I have to let them figure it out hoping and praying for restoration.

I think I understand God’s heart, just a little better, as I read Jeremiah this week.