This, the third installment of “The Grief of God,” from the second chapter of my book Change the World (in process) is best understood along with the first two posts (links provided below). Having considered God’s grief over man’s sin as expressed in Genesis 6, I continue…
It is not only the initial event that generates grief but, at times, the anticipation and execution of the consequence that must follow the event enhances or extends the grief. As a consequence of man’s deep and grievous sin, the passage under consideration finds God arranging for the destruction of the human race as we read, “Behold, I, even I am bringing the flood of water upon the earth, to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life, from under heaven; everything that is on the earth shall perish” (Ge.6:17). The old saying, “This is going to hurt me more than it does you” has merit. Righteous and just responses to sin, selfishness and wickedness are often accompanied with much grief.
As God labored with the nation of Israel in a special manner, their continued rejection, rebellion and sin led Him to declare, “…I have been hurt by their adulterous hearts which turned away from Me, and by their eyes which played the harlot after their idols…” (Eze.6:9).
Moving into further Biblical revelation concerning God’s grief, we find a powerful, prophetic statement about the Christ reading, “He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him” (Is.53:3). Far from being impassible or immutable, the Son of God became flesh and dwelt among His creation, coming to His own and they did not receive Him. He was rejected, ridiculed, beaten and crucified, “…a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.”
Amazingly, such rejection was met with the lament, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling” (Mt.23:37).
In all of this, we aim for balance. We often represent Jesus as the friendly Savior, meek and mild who is removed from the hurt, disappointment and grief that sin produces. Though there is tremendous compassion expressed by God, it is tainted with significant amounts of deep grief over the sin of the world and the variety of consequences it has produced.