LIVING CORAM DEO
Wednesday, 22 November, 2017

Man, The Grief And Pain Of God

Genesis 6: 5 – 8: 22.

dont-lose-sightThe Noahic era was one of the darkest period of human history when God saw that the wickedness of man overwhelmed the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually, and He was sorry what man had made of himself. The Lord was grieved and wounded in His heart (6: 5-6). Then God annihilated mankind, safe Noah’s immediate family, and started over again. Since 1945, the wave of refugees worldwide is now the largest, and violence has not abated, but is becoming more brutal and reprehensible. If we have no notion of God’s justice, then we may agree with the-God-is-dead-philosopher Nietzche: where there is nothing wrong with violence, then all moral outrage is just a power play. We, therefore, cannot condemn Hitler, for he only did what was natural in all men – the powerful crushing the weak. But if we believe in a just God, it would seem inevitable that humanity is treading a dreadfully fine line, and although God promised He would not destroy all mankind again (8: 21), His justice will arrive in His time; testing our patience and godliness.

Besides, on what basis do we forgive if justice is a figment of our power play? We forgive simply because we are aware that we are not the judge, jury, and executioner. It would be satisfying to play those roles at some point as our victimhood and/or our oppositional spirit would naturally drive us in that direction. We call this vengeance. But wait, are we not just as marred as those who opposed or wronged us (Rom 3: 23), and did not God say that vengeance belongs only to Him? (Deut 32:35; Heb 10:30). Is not what is happening in our depraved world sufficient proof that wielding the sword in vengeance begat unabated and reciprocal violence, and at times this tit-for-tat have run on for centuries? We are able to break that cycle only if we irrevocably believe deep in the core of our being that God will one day judge evil and her handmaiden, violence. This is the heart of Christian nonviolence, both in speech and action!

Richard-WurmbrandThe Bible is unequivocal in its pronouncement that God has strong feelings even though He is prescient, contrary to most human experiences. When the predictable happens, we tend to assuage our feelings towards normalcy and anaesthetize ourselves toward unpleasantness and pain. Unlike humans, even as He judges, because truth and holiness, love and compassion characterize Him, God does not deny the expressions of His own grief and pain. This is God’s problem with every necessary judgment He makes, without prejudice – His heart fills with a most intense form of emotion, a mixture of rage and bitter anguish (cf., Ps 78:40; Isa 63:10; Ezek 18:32), as He is bound up with His fallen created imago Dei. In a similar way, unless we are totally dysfunctional, we can be overwhelmed by grief and pain when our own child disobeys us, or strays away. It hurts. Sensitivity to the Spirit’s grief and pain whenever truth and love confronts sin and evil in our relationships with distressed people around us is dependent on the depth of our relationship with our Lord. If truth is purveyed without love, we often become angry, condemning and self-righteous; the reverse strips us of our Christian standards.

Matthew 5Was there a sufficient basis for God to decide on such a drastic solution in Noah’s days? What He saw was repeated twice in Genesis (6:5-6; 11-12), indicative of its importance. As we all know, sin too entered the ark, for no sooner after leaving it, it crept back into human lives and began once again to corrupt the earth. God was attempting to show us that saving mankind would eventually cost Him everything, and because of His immutable commitment to His creation, the only solution to evil and violence was by taking the judgment on Himself at the Cross! (Roms 8:1–18). May our indignation at sin in all its forms today, match our heavenly Father’s grief and pain in graciousness as we hold testimony to the Spirit’s truth and love (Jn 14:16-17; 1 Jn 4:7-8). It is no easy tension to be bound with any fallen person or group of people; to sample minutely how God feels.

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