SHOULD BELIEVERS GRIEVE? - P5
Should Believers Grieve? - P5
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor” (Luke 4:18).
As we saw last time, satan is an adversary and accuser—both of man to God and of God to man. His best tactic is to find us at our weakest, when his oppression has us down - when we are in pain, struggling, discouraged, anguished, etc. It is then, when we are grieving, that satan accuses God to us.
Why does this work? As with Job and Jeremiah, the Psalmists’ prayers give us a window on this struggle with suffering. We see many instances where they feel abandoned by God—at times feeling that God does not care the way a loving father should for the pain of his children: “Why do you hide your face? Why do you forget our affliction and oppression?” (Ps. 44:24) “For you are the God in whom I take refuge; why have you rejected me? Why do I go about mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?” (Ps. 43:2)
In modern parlance they might be saying: “God, I know You can save me, why don’t You help me? ; Don’t You care?” ; “How could a loving Father allow this?”
This is precisely what satan is trying to accomplish, for he is there in the midst of our struggle tempting us to accuse God in our anguish like Job and Jeremiah were tempted to do in their emotional distress. Does God understand our distress? Does He care?
Enter Jesus Christ, Who “had to be made like His brethren in all things” (Heb. 2:17b). “For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted” (Heb. 2:18). “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15). God sent His Son among us—in our flesh—suffering what we suffer—to make a way out of the oppression of sin and its eternal consequences. Jesus is better acquainted with the devil’s oppression than any of us, for not only did the devil oppress Him greatly (knowing Who He was), but on the cross Jesus also took upon Himself the cumulative effect of all the sins of the world—the mighty oppression of the sin nature and the effects of sin all fell on Him to bear the responsibility and guilt of it all before the Father.
The oppression of sin on the Cross was so unbearable that Jesus cried out to His Father “‘My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?’ ...And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit” (Mat. 27:46-50). Yes, He understands, and He cares. He came to declare the end of the devil’s oppression and affliction, and when He returns, He will free all nature from the oppression of sin as King and Lord of all nature for all eternity. As in the Christmas hymn, “O Holy Night”:
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother
And in His name, all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we
Let all within us praise His holy name!
May we hold fast to the promises of God and trust that He is working for our good (as He says He is) even in the midst of the oppression of this present age with which satan is allowed to touch our lives. When we grieve, may we resist the temptation to listen to satan’s accusations of our Father when we have the strength to do so by the grace of God—and when it overwhelms us (as it sometimes does), may we affirm and testify of our God’s character when we come out of the emotional fog of suffering, just as his servants Job and Jeremiah did also. And like them, may we affirm that God is Who He says He is and His character is true to His nature despite our limited and dim understanding of what we are going through. Even so, Amen.