What does it mean to grieve? To grieve means to feel sorrow, to mourn, to have an enthusiastic expression of intense grief.
In his first book, Jeremiah predicted Jerusalem’s destruction. Jeremiah was known as the “weeping prophet” and the “prophet of a broken heart,” for he cried for Jerusalem. Jeremiah authored the Book of Lamentations sometime after the fall of Jerusalem.
So, what caused his grief? The people had rejected God. God had made them, loved them, and continually looked after them and blessed them, yet they still turned their backs on Him. This broke Jeremiah’s heart.
He knew that the people’s selfish and sinful ways would bring suffering and exile. Jeremiah had compassion and he understood why God’s heart was broken.
Today, we will look at a few passages of Scripture in the Book of Lamentations to try to understand what it means to grieve with God.
Can We Really Grieve with God?
Man does not want to hear about God’s anger to sin. Humanity only wants to hear about the love of God. The question should be, how do we feel about our sin and God's anger because of sin?
Is it right for believers to sit and cry out for justice when the believer is the one that caused the punishment?
Too often, televangelists and ministers all want to profess about the good and the bounty and the prosperity of God but do any of them preach on and against sin? For some reason, man constantly turns to others instead of calling to God. Jerusalem had sinned against God.
Jeremiah cried because he had turned from his people due to their rebellious ways. They continually looked for outside help from the world, which they had been warned not to do.
The warning was straightforward. In the event that Judah behaved recklessly, its people would get punished. Jerusalem absurdly took a risk and lost, declining to accept that unethical living brings God's discipline.
A definitive result of wrongdoing is discipline (Romans 6:23). We can decide to disregard God's alerts, however as certainly as judgment happened upon Jerusalem, so will it happen upon the people who challenge God.
We think that sin offers freedom in the beginning but having the liberty to do anything leads us to do everything that is wrong. We become captive to sin. True freedom comes from our obedience to God. God is the comforter, but since the people chose to sin, he had turned his back and become the judge.
The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled (Genesis 6:6).
Undoubtedly Jeremiah cried so much that he could not see. His insides churned from the stress. His whole body was wrecked. Jeremiah was sincere and sympathetic, full of compassion for his people.
His intense grief was due to the agony and desolation that he saw his people go through. Jesus even felt sorrow and cried (John11:35).
What sinfulness have we witnessed that has caused us to have similar compassion and sorrow that Jeremiah felt for Jerusalem?
Does it grieve us to see sin running rampant through our communities, our state, our nation, or our world? How do you think God feels knowing that He has provided and given so much and yet the world still turns its back on Him?
How often they rebelled against him in the wilderness and grieved him in the wasteland! (Psalm 78:40).
Is There Hope During Times of Sorrow?
Here we see that Jeremiah saw a ray of hope amongst all the turmoil, God’s compassions fail not. If we ask, God will respond with help. If we ask for forgiveness with a truly penitent heart, He will forgive us.
There is no sin too great for God’s compassion. God is also faithful. He promised judgment for disobedience, and that is what happened. But God also promises to restore and to bless.
Jeremiah saw the mercies of God. If Jerusalem had received what it truly deserved, Jerusalem would be no more. Remember Sodom and Gomorrah?
Where are they at now? The prophets had all said that God would judge Jerusalem for their sin, to which He has done so but has not destroyed them. A remnant of the faithful has remained.
What about our own lives? Will God judge us? Has God judged us for our sins? Have we listened to God speak to us? Are we obeying God’s Word?
Nevertheless, because of the covenant the Lord had made with David, the Lord was not willing to destroy the house of David. He had promised to maintain a lamp for him and his descendants forever (2 Chronicles 21:7).
To enter the Temple or to worship God, one could not be unclean or polluted. The priests and prophets were to be careful in maintaining their ceremonial purity. That way they would be clean to perform their duties in the Temple.
Unfortunately, many of them had succumbed to sin and evil. They had given the wrong example to the people and had led them into sin, which caused Jerusalem’s collapse. The Priest and prophets were guilty.
They did not tell the truth to the people, and as such, led the people into deeper sin, which caused their downfall. There were some prophets, like Jeremiah, who spoke the truth. But some people paid no attention and were judged.
If we do not present the Word of God today, we are also guilty. Have we presented the Truth of the Word? Grieving the Holy Spirit is adamantly going against his guidance by insubordination and defiance.
Yet they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit. So he turned and became their enemy and he himself fought against them (Isaiah 63:10).
What Does This Mean?
A high calling spurned by low living produces profound affliction. The Book of Lamentations provides us with a picture of the unpleasant suffering that the people of Jerusalem experienced when sin found them.
Each material objective they had lived for imploded. In any case, in spite of the fact that God had turned from them due to their wrongdoing, he did not leave them. In spite of their corrupt past, God would reestablish them if they repented and turned back to him. There is no hope besides in the Lord.
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption (Ephesians 4:30).
Although we have sinned and deserve punishment, God is still the same God. Jeremiah prayed for mercy and grace. He prayed for forgiveness. He asks God to revive and renew the people spiritually so that God would be with them.
God had rejected them, and God had been angry with them. But God has provided forgiveness, all we need to do is ask.
Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:23-24).
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Chris Swanson answered the call into the ministry over 20 years ago. He has served as a Sunday School teacher, a youth director along with his wife, a music director, an associate pastor, and an interim pastor. Chris is a retired Navy Chief Hospital Corpsman with over 30 years of combined active and reserve service. During his service, he received numerous awards and citations. Chris holds a Doctor of Ministry, an M.B.A., and a B.S. in health administration. Chris and his wife Vicki of 24 years reside in Madison, Alabama. If you are interested in having Chris deliver God's Word at your place of worship, you can reach him here.