“God desires closeness; intimacy is God’s goal. Further, God is one who chooses to be so present in the finitude and frailty of a human being–indeed, a powerless human being as power is usually conceived. He is one who startles the nations, for who would have believed that the arm of the Lord was revealed in such a one as this (Isa. 53:1)? In and through such individuals, God thereby identifies with frail people. And it is thereby shown that God is not a suffering-at-a-distance God; God enters into the suffering of all creatures and experiences their life.” Terrence Fretheim
“So I weep, as Jazer weeps…
I drench you with tears!
The shouts of joy over your ripened fruit
…no one treads out wine at the presses,
for I have put an end to the shouting.
My heart laments for Moab like a harp,
my inmost being for Kir Hareseth.”
“’In Moab I will put an end to those who make offerings on the high places and burn incense to their gods,’ declares Yahweh. ‘So my heart laments for Moab like the music of a pipe; it laments like a pipe for the people of Kir Hareseth.’” Jeremiah 48:35-36
“To hear such mourning on the part of God for a non-Israelite people is striking indeed. Most of this language is also used to describe the weeping and wailing of the Moabites, so that the impression created is that of a God whose lamentation is as deep and broad as that of the people themselves. As with Israel, God is the one who has occasioned the judgment in the first place (e.g., Jer 48:38); but once the judgment has occurred, God joins those who mourn.” ibid.
Moving from Head to Heart
- God “has occasioned the judgment … but once the judgment has occurred, God joins those who mourn.” Contemplate that. Isn’t it amazing?
- Have you ever mourned over some disobedience of yours and the divine chastening that followed? Did you realize that God was there, in his love for you, mourning with you?
- God “identifies with frail people” – and not only with “his people” (Israel, the church), but with all people (e.g., Moab). Does your attitude towards unbelievers reflect God’s attitude? Can you have compassion even for those God might be judging?
For More: The Suffering of God by Terrence E. Fretheim
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