As her vocabulary has grown over the last few months, my 3-year-old granddaughter, Josephine, has said some very funny things (as most 3-year-olds do). And she has also said some very profound things with great theological significance.
A few weeks ago, Hurricane Harvey made its way from Texas and up through Tennessee, causing widespread flooding. The day after, Josephine and her dad (my oldest son) took a walk in her favorite park. Since it's right next to a river, the park had flooded badly. Trees and fences had been knocked over by the force of the water. And the entire playground surface had been washed away by the flood, leaving exposed concrete, metal, and debris from the river.
As Josephine surveyed the devastation to her favorite playground, a scene which many 3-year-olds from Texas to Tennessee would have seen in the days following the flood, she said to her dad:
"God is going to be so sad when He sees this."
Though Josephine's 3-year-old mind is not yet capable of understanding the fact that God already knew about the flood (In fact, He foreknew this catastrophic event), her comments reveal a deep understanding about the heart of God in the midst of tragedy.
When God looks down on Josephine's favorite playground and sees the devastation caused by the flood, He, like Josephine, is sad.
When God looks down on Houston, which was hit the hardest by Harvey, He, like millions in that city, is sad.
When God looks down on Mexico City, still recovering from a massive earthquake that killed hundreds, He is sad.
When God looks down on Puerto Rico and the many islands of the Caribbean that have been hit by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, and He sees the devastation and the suffering, He is sad.
When God looks down on the city of Marseille, as it reels in fear from yet another terrorist attack, He is sad.
And when God looks down on the city of Las Vegas today as it mourns the deaths of 59 people from a mass shooting last night, He, like that entire city, is sad.
How can we be sure that God mourns when we mourn? How do we know that our tragedies, big and small, matter to God? How do we know how God feels about tragedies in our cities and country?
Notice how Luke recorded the last time Jesus would enter Jerusalem in Luke 19. In his omniscience, Jesus knew it wouldn't be long before His beloved city would be violently attacked and devastated. Let's look at how He felt: "When he came near, He beheld the city and wept over it" (Luke 19:41). In the words of my granddaughter, "He was sad."
We follow a Savior who not only wept over the city of Jerusalem but also wept at a small funeral in the village of Bethany for a man named Lazarus (John 11).
It might be helpful to know that in both of these accounts of Jesus weeping, the original word translated "wept" does not mean a single tear slowly coursing down a cheek as lips silently quiver. Rather, it means a loud wailing that anyone within hearing distance would certainly notice.
Even though Jesus knew Lazarus would die. Even though Jesus knew he would be raised from the dead. Even though Jesus knew that He had power over death and the grave. He still was sad when He saw the tomb of His friend and his sisters, Mary and Martha, grieving.
Because we follow a Savior who is both fully God and fully human, we can know with certainty the two things that we all need to hear in moments of suffering grief: God is sovereign in our tragedy and God is sad with us.
Steve Murrell serves as the president of Every Nation Churches and Ministries, a ministry that does church planting and campus ministry in over 70 nations.
This article originally appeared at stevemurrell.com.
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