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Grieve for the Living

We live with an agonizing discrepancy. We were not originally designed to lose. When Adam and Eve were created, they were going to live forever. Their descendants were going to live forever. They were not going to have deal with illness, death, abuse, abandonment, financial reversals or evil. Things didn’t stay that way, however. Mankind fell and we have been wrestling with brokenness, evil, and destruction ever since.
The news this month has been ripe with reminders of the depravity and brokenness of the human condition and we have all experienced various reactions. It occurred to me today as I was reading Isaiah 15 and 16 that part of a healthy response is to grieve for everyone involved. Moab was put under discipline by God but He found no pleasure in it. God never sacrifices His righteous standards in life but He is primarily motivated by love. In His review of the state of Moab,
• God’s “heart cries out over Moab.” (15:5)
• He weeps. (16:9)
• His “heart laments for Moab like a harp.” (16:11)
I am glad that God is just and that He disciplines people when they do wrong but I am just as glad that His heart breaks over the damage that is done by people’s actions. Since we are created in the image of God, it is my goal to have this same balance in my life. I want us to have strong laws and to act deliberately, wisely and definitively when justice has been violated. I want to us to uphold a standard of respect, high morals, sanctity of life and integrity.
At the same time, I want us to appropriately grieve over the depravity of mankind and the pain it inflicts on a multitude of individuals. I grieve over the factors that converge in people’s lives that cause them to rely on drugs, have affairs, abuse others, lie, cheat, steal and manipulate others for their own advantage. There has to be deep pain or unchecked evil in the heart of these people that desperately needs to be redeemed and transformed. Our faith is littered with imperfect heroes from Samson to David to Paul to Jonah. They all had dark moments in their lives but they also experienced the transformation of grace. In our steps to curb evil and punish wrongdoing, I believe we should also hold out hope that those who do wrong will one day experience the grace of God that can deliver eternal hope even if it can’t undo the temporary sufferings.
Even more, I am determined to grieve over the impact of evil actions on those who have been victimized. Every month, innocent children, business partners, hard-working volunteers, sincere spouses, investors, and the disadvantaged are taken advantage of. People’s lives are left with scars, sensitive trigger points, overwhelming fears and potential bitterness that create significant obstacles to successful relationships and personal growth. I have had the privilege of working with numerous people over the past 25 years as they found ways to forgive rebuild and grow to the point they can now help others who have experienced similar travesties. I grieve over the fact, however, that they had to go through the strenuous and vulnerable process to get there.
Jesus, in the midst of the pain and mistreatment that happens in this world, let me never lose my heart of compassion or my willingness to defend the innocent.

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