“Jesus wept” (John 11:35).

ALTHOUGH GOD HAS MADE FORGIVENESS POSSIBLE, THE WORLDLY CONSEQUENCES OF SIN ARE STILL SORROWFUL TO CONTEMPLATE. This is still our Father’s world, as the words of the familiar hymn point out, but it is a world tragically broken by our own folly. God is dealing with the reality of sin so that His purposes will be gloriously consummated, but between now and then there is much that breaks even the heart of God. Every day millions of those whom He lovingly created suffer the ravages of “death,” even while they live. To know this is to weep. We may be, as Paul put it, “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” (2 Corinthians 6:10), but the fact remains that our joy is not without its sorrow.

Blaise Pascal pointed out that there is nothing in the world that does not show either our wretchedness or God’s mercy, either our weakness without God or our strength with God. Although we naturally prefer to dwell on God’s mercy, it is the wretchedness of our plight without God that makes His mercy meaningful. We can’t enjoy the latter very deeply if we haven’t thought about the former very honestly. Like the woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears (Luke 7:37,38), we’ll be truly grateful for forgiveness only after we’ve come to grips with what our sin has cost God. It is only the self-righteous who are not moved to tears.

Solomon, a man who had pondered “every work that is done under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 8:9), finally drew this sober conclusion: “In much wisdom is much grief, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow” (Ecclesiastes 1:18). The more we know of what goes on in the world, the more we’ll be struck by the sadness of what has happened to God’s creation.

Sadness is not the whole story, of course, and it’s certainly not the end of the story. It’s only a part of the story, but its part is not unimportant. Isaiah described the Messiah as “a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3). If we intend to follow this kind of Leader, then let us go to Golgotha and be ready to taste His tears. “The cross of Christ destroyed the equation religion equals happiness” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer).

“It is impossible for one to live without tears who considers things exactly as they are” (Gregory of Nyssa).

Gary Henry – WordPoints.com

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