Summary: Scripture calls us to 'weep with those who weep’. We grieve over suffering. We should also grieve over sin.
In my first two Reflections I considered prayer. Our first response to coronavirus, as a church and as a nation, should be to pray. Another response we must make is to grieve. Paul wrote in Romans 12:15, ‘Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep’. Some weeks ago I travelled up to Cardiff and Bristol to pick up my daughter and son from university. On the radio, I listened to journalist Zeinab Badawi speaking of the death of her cousin, transplant surgeon Adil El Tayar, to coronavirus. There was no doubt about the grief in his family. We are to grieve with people who grieve. We cannot be unmoved.
In comparison with some other subjects, Scripture doesn’t say a great deal about mourning and grieving. In fact, I can think of only one place where Jesus speaks about it. That is in the Beatitudes. Here are the first two beatitudes (Matthew 5:3,4):
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Someone called the Beatitudes the blueprint of the Christian. They show what a Christian should look like. There are only eight Beatitudes so if something is included it means it’s important. Beatitude number two is that the Christian mourns. This isn’t only when someone dies. The world is full of sad things, and we should be saddened by them.
Recently, my wife and I have been reading Ezekiel. We’ve reached chapter 12. Some people consider Ezekiel to be the most difficult of the prophets to understand, and I wouldn’t argue with that. Ezekiel is difficult, but some things come across loud and clear. Here, Ezekiel passes on a message from God to the Israelites. This is 6:8-9.
When you have among the nations some who escape the sword, and when you are scattered through the countries, then those of you who escape will remember me among the nations where they are carried captive, how I have been broken over their whoring heart that has departed from me…
God says, ‘how I have been broken…’ Wow! God can be broken?! Clearly, God is deeply grieved. And God wants to find people who also grieve. This is 9:4.
And the Lord said to him, ‘Pass through the city, through Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations that are committed in it.’
After that, God gives an instruction to kill everyone who doesn’t have that mark! Gulp! But once we’ve got over the shock, we hopefully get the picture. God grieves, and the true follower of God also grieves. This is a time for grief.
May God watch over us and keep us.