Divine Grief

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!

Matt. 23:37

Grief involves deep and intense sorrow or distress over the death of someone or the loss of a close and important relationship. Grief is a reaction to a major loss: mourning, hurt, pain, anger are all apart of the grieving process.

God grieves for us, his children, when we refuse his help, ignore his will, and reject his explicit commands. He suffers with us and yearns to help, he died for our sins that we might be free to enjoy his love and companionship. Because God loves, he understands us, thus he suffers with us and for us.

This is just what I meant when I spoke of the grief or the tragedy of God on our account. All of us have experienced the fact that our grief for someone whom we cannot help because he will not let us help him is all the greater the more we love him. You grasp how great is God’s sorrow for you only when you realize how much you are loved and to what extent God is thinking about you . . . .

I have said that the suffering of God is so great because He loves us so much. Anyone who has a dear friend going to the dogs, and is unable to help us as he rushes step by step to destruction, knows that this is like death for himself, too. For loving means complete sharing, and the misfortune of the other means pain for oneself.

This is the meaning of Good Friday for the Son of God. He bears the guilt of the world. Perhaps this sounds very dogmatic. But we can understand it clearly enough, as men, if we only see that the heart of the Saviour beats with burning love for His lost and and unhappy children. And because He understands, he suffers with them.

Helmut Thielicke, The Silence of God, trans., G.W. Bromiley (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1962), 70.

Leave a Comment