Why is it that the music that grips our souls is filled with sorrow and brokenness? Think about it. Without these themes country and western music would disappear and Delilah’s overnight radio program would be reduced to a three-song playlist. A happy song can lift our spirits for a moment, but a sad song resonates our whole being. It’s images, its expressions, its vocalization of our own grief is powerful. Happiness can be superficial, but sorrow has a rich topography – with dark, foreboding peaks and deep valleys. Sorrow is a richly woven tapestry more common to our human experience than joy. We can instinctively feel the truth of the Solomon’s sage observation, even though it seems counterintuitive.
It is better to go to the house of mourning
than to go to the house of feasting,
for this is the end of all mankind,
and the living will lay it to heart. Ecclesiastes 7:2
So, it is no wonder that the Psalms in the Bible contain many more songs of lament than songs of joy. The Holy Spirit instructs us to lay our sorrows before a God who is not a cold, indifferent higher power, but a Heavenly Father who delights to hear cry of his children and wipe away their tears, who loves us with a depth and intensity that we can scarcely grasp. As Calvin aptly noted, the Psalms reflect the anatomy of the soul and teach us how to exercise faith even in the midst of fear, pain and sorrow.
And Jesus, our Savior, made like us – truly human though also fully God — was a “man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” who bears our sorrows and carries our griefs. The depth of our character and our being is revealed more clearly in our sorrow than in our joy. As Jesus’ sorrow is highlighted in the gospels we perceive the depth of his love for broken sinners. He wept over the unbelief of his people.
Jeremiah demonstrated this same type of grief for the people of his day. Often called the weeping prophet, Jeremiah’s sharp pronouncement of judgment and urgent calls to repentance are interleaved with songs of sorrow over the unbelief of his people. Some of these are interspersed throughout his sermons while others are collected in Lamentations.
But in Jeremiah 12 we encounter another lamentation – not from the lips of Jeremiah, but from God himself. Here we see God singing a lament over his people because of their unbelief. It is a song that gives us a picture of the depth of God’s love – love that weathers unfaithfulness, love that holds out mercy, love that longs to restore. To despise God’s love, grace, and salvation, to trample underfoot the blood of the covenant is to be worthy of all His wrath – yet in wrath, He remembers mercy.
From Jeremiah, we have heard of our sin and of the certainty of God’s justice. We have heard time and time again God’s willingness to have us back, calling us to turn back from having turned backs. But here we see His grief over our lostness and over every sin that clings so closely. We see how he feels about us. There is no harsh, cold, indifference. There is no eagerness to judge and destroy. In his love and compassion for us, he has gone to the extremity of entering into our condition in the person of Jesus, to satisfy justice and show mercy. Our impassible God is no dispassionate God. His love and concern for us is beyond what we can grasp. In this passage we are called the “beloved of [His] soul.”
Not sure how God feels about you? Join us this Sunday, October 20 to find out. We meet from 5:00 – 6:30 pm in The Commons at St. Andrews Anglican Church at 8300 Kanis Rd in Little Rock. Click here for directions. Come with a friend and join us for fellowship and worship. We look forward to seeing you there.