Heartbreak always presupposes love. Others can stir our resentment, kindle our wrath, cause inconvenience, bring disappointment; but the only person who can break our heart is the person we love. All of which says that love is indeed a risky business. It makes us vulnerable. And God has chosen to take that kind of a gamble with you and me.
To be estranged from, lonely for, out of fellowship with the one you love, that is a basic element of sorrow. You don’t go far in sacred scripture until you run into that – the loneliness of God. The book of Genesis paints an unforgettable picture – God walks in the garden in the cool of the day, searching and calling, “Where are you, Adam?” It is the kind of loneliness that all parents must feel in some measure. They watch their children go away from home, set their affections and find their satisfaction in other places and with other people.
Even in the normal development of life –the dictates of the calendar, the calling of the college campus– it is hard enough to lose your boy or girl. When there is the added element of willful estrangement, few sorrows can compare with this. To bring a child to life, to dream for him or her the best and then see him or her choose the worst, to crave his or her companionship and get indifference, to long for his or her affection and get ingratitude – that has to hurt.
That is the grief in the heart of God – that His children so often find their interests and lay their plans outside His love and will. You can read about it through the scriptures. Isaiah, the prophet, heard God say, “the children I raised and cared for so long and tenderly you have turned against me. Even the animals – the donkey and the ox – know their owner and appreciate his provisions, but not my people, Israel. No matter what I do for them, they still don’t care.” Hosea, the prophet, echoes this sentiment, “When Israel was a child I loved him. I taught him to walk. I held him in my arms, but he doesn’t know or even care that it was I who raised him.” That hurts!
This is the grief of God – that we humans seek life’s satisfactions, center our affections, look for fulfillment outside His loving will, and have no fellowship with Him who is our God and our Father.
So then how do you think God feels as He views the tangled human situation today? How does He feel when He hears the thunder of guns as human beings hurt and kill each other? How does He feel as He sees His beautiful world defaced by strife and terrorism and grief and lust? He feels what any good parent would feel who sees his or her children using each other and abusing their birthright – He feels grief.
Sometimes we wonder why God doesn’t do something about it all. Why doesn’t He stop wars and terrorism? Why doesn’t He break in and crush the schemes of wicked men? Why doesn’t He come in power and do something about human tragedy?
Well, the great heart of the gospels is that God has not made us robots. He has made us persons, free to choose the good and therefore, free to choose the bad. But God does not stand apart or aloof from it all. In the person of His Son, Jesus, He had involved Himself in all our human experiences.
Jesus tells us, “There is joy in heaven over one sinner who repents.” This simply means that all of us human beings have the power today to turn the grief of God into gladness. It is done by turning our lives over to Him. What a difference it will make in our lives.