Can you recall the first time you saw your parent cry? I have an enduring image of my dad, who I always experienced as stoic, breaking down in tears. I was about ten years old. We were at my grandparent’s farm when I saw my dad overcome with emotion. It was confusing. It shifted my understanding of him. That moment lingered in my mind’s file folder for years because I never knew what caused the waterfalls. Only just before his death did I have the courage to ask about that childhood moment when I saw my dad weep.
God Hurts Along With Us
One of the first images we have of our Heavenly Father in Scripture is of a pained heart. With the wickedness of humanity spreading virally throughout his creation, we are introduced to a holy God who “was grieved in his heart” (Genesis 6:6). The brokenness of his world touches God deeply and moves him to action. God is hurt and shows it.
The brokenness of his world touches God deeply and moves him to action. God is hurt and shows it.
Jesus’ training of disciples includes an invitation into a heavenly paradox: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4). “Blessed” literally means happy or enviable. So, Jesus is inviting his followers to the happy life of mourning. He is inviting us to a life that is like God’s.
This is revealed vividly in two other Gospel accounts. The first is the beautiful portrayal of the father in the parable of the Prodigal Son; well, actually, it’s a parable of two wayward sons and a Father who loves deeply (Luke 15:11-32). The power of the parable is as much in what is unsaid as in what is said. The father of those boys feels the pain of rejection, the agony of waiting, and the disappointment of having his children miss the point. Jesus points to God the Father as gentle and strong; as persevering through pain.
The other Gospel account is the death of Jesus’ friend Lazarus. John’s observation – who was present when “Blessed are those who mourn” was first spoken – is just two words: “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). The brokenness of the world is not a doctrinal position for God; it is deeply personal and emotional. God is deeply moved and is moved to action.
An Invitation To See The World As God Sees It
You see, when Jesus describes the blessing of mourning and the promise of being comforted, he is inviting us to see and experience the world as God does and receive the comfort God alone provides. In fact, “Comforter” is a descriptor of the Holy Spirit (John 15:26). To join in our Heavenly Father’s pain in this broken world is a blessed and enviable space for it is a sign that we have finally come alive in God and will receive the comfort God himself provides.
To join in our Heavenly Father’s pain in this broken world is a blessed and enviable space for it is a sign that we have finally come alive in God and will receive the comfort God himself provides.
Slow down and consider: What grieves you? Who makes you cry? Does the brokenness of the world grieve you? And, despite that pain, do you know God’s hopeful comfort that moves you to action? And, if none of this is true for you, why not?
I wonder sometimes if we live far too long with our Heavenly Father being a mystery to us like my dad was. My dad and I eventually got to the root of that and it filled in a gap for me that made my estimation of him grow. We don’t need to wait that long to understand our Father in Heaven. From the Bible’s beginnings and in the full revelation of God in Jesus Christ we know a God who mourns and then moves to action, to bring this sad world comfort.
How are you being moved to see your world, pray for your world, act into this world as one who mourns? What might require unblocking in your own story to get there? How is the Comforter inviting you know your Heavenly Father and King more fully so you can be like him?