What Breaks God’s Heart? (Death)

Cemetaery-238x204Several years ago my Pastor (then at Riverlakes Community Church) preached a series on “What Breaks God’s Heart”.  The title has always stuck out to me and I have often times meditated on what does break God’s heart.  The Bible is full of explicit references to the heart of God being deeply moved, even moved to tears over the heartache in this fallen world.  This is the second in a series of posts on What Breaks God’s Heart

In the fall of 2005 I was finishing up my last semester at The Master’s Seminary when I had one of the most intimate experiences with death that I can remember.  Each year I got to take a discipleship lab with one of the professors or one of the pastors at Grace Church.  This particular semester I got to spend some time with Jim Pile who is the pastor in charge of Pastoral Care at Grace.  Jim gets to spend a lot of time dealing with death and dying, so over the course of the semester we go to talk about death and dying quite a bit.  Toward the end of the class, I was given the rare privilege of visiting the Los Angeles County Crematorium for an extended tour of the facility.  I got to see the furnaces, a small chapel, and a large room full of brown plastic boxes.  Each of the boxes held a clear plastic bag of ashes.  Standing in this room I listened to the care taker of the facility explain how the facility worked, as I held one of the plastic bags with what remained of a human life in it.  As I thought about what was in my hand, the care taker’s words began to fade into the distance as I reflected on the fact that this person used to be someone’s child.  He was probably bounced on his father’s knee, he was probably rocked to sleep by his mother and he probably went to school with other kids just like him.  Maybe he was even someone’s husband, maybe they were still looking for him or maybe they could care less…and something inside of me just ached.

Death has a way of doing that to us, it always hurts and it seems so completely arbitrary and unfair.  In one box you may have found a drug dealer, and in another box you may have found a lawyer who fell on hard times.  But, when it was all said and done they ended up sitting side by side and soon they would end up in the same place.  Death truly is the great equalizer of all men and yet despite all of the thousands of years that mankind has had to come to peace with our own mortality, death still stings.

When I think of the question, “What breaks God’s heart?” I have to think that death ranks pretty high up there.  Death was the ultimate punishment handed down from God to man for his sin and since that time Adam’s tragic epitaph has been written over every man’s grave “and he died” (Genesis 5:5). 

Perhaps no single event makes this more clear than the death of Jesus’ friend Lazarus.  After hearing of His friend’s sickness, Jesus went to find that he had already died.  As Jesus looked over the crowd of mourners that day the Bible gives one of its simplest and most profound statements, “Jesus wept” (John 11:35).  I’ve often wondered why Jesus wept over Lazarus death, especially when He knew that in just a few moments He would raise Lazarus from the grave.  It almost seems like one of those moments when He would say, “Why are you weeping?  Behold the power of God!”  But instead we find the Savior, God in the flesh, bursting into tears (BDAG) and weeping over the death of a friend.  The only explanation seems to be that death is really that bad.  Death always hurts, it is always heart wrenching and it is one of those pains that is so great that it broke the Saviors heart.

As Christians, we live in a wonderful place where death no longer has victory over us (1 Cor. 15:55).  We have been given a new life and promised a new body (1 Cor. 15:42), but in some way death will still touch each of our lives and that breaks God’s heart.

Psalm 90:12 – So teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

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July 06 2009 02:12 pm | What Breaks God's Heart

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