When the Spirit weeps

16 09 2014

I am speculating, being an unlikely source for explaining God beyond what is explicitly stated in the Bible. But I want to pass along an observation I have made.

This last Sunday in the corporate worship at our church, there was a familiar member of our congregation present who has been stricken with cancer which has left him fatigued and without successful diagnosis or treatment. He has lost a lot of weight, yet still comes when he has the strength and participates in our worship.

At one point during the service, a young woman who is also well-known in our congregation, and I believe known to be a very spiritually-hearted believer, made her way over to the man and sat down beside him to pray for him. Before long her voice raised to a volume such that everyone stopped to listen. At first with words unintelligible, then progressing to intelligible words expressing (as I recall) things such as “God is faithful,” “It is already done,” and “God is worthy.” During this time of praying and wailing, the man and young woman were embracing each other in a holy way.

After she expressed her heart in this way for three or four minutes, during which time the pastor stood and oversaw the situation, the pastor thanked and praised the Lord that He was at work, then proceeding to the rest of the planned service.

I have sought to understand what meaning we may take away from this experience. There is nothing about it that I feel was inappropriate. What I am thinking at this time is that the sadness and grieving which this young woman felt was a reflection of, if not an expression on behalf of, the Holy Spirit. God is by no means powerless to heal the man’s cancer. I pray that He will. But whatever God chooses to do, He is grieved by sin, suffering, sickness, and death.

Perhaps what we experienced on Sunday was similar to Jesus hearing that his friend Lazarus had died and weeping over the news–weeping over the sadness that it caused Mary and Martha. (Jn. 11:35)

Over these past weeks I have had a heavy heart over the Ebola plague in west Africa.  I have felt nauseous and helpless at the beheadings by radicals in the Middle East. Who can fix these mega-problems? Somehow, the crying woman in our church helps me. God is terribly sad at sin and disease. In the heavenly places, the Spirit and the angels watch with disgust. Does this mean that God is helpless to heal and deliver? No, but these sufferings are evidences of our race and planet fallen into the grip of sin.

I believe God’s anger at these evils is accumulating. My recent re-reading of the book of Revelation has reminded me that God is hopping mad at evil-doers. He sees what the enemy is doing to people. And the wrath of God is being stored up for a judgment on evil that will literally destroy the world as we know it. The powers that have a heyday now will fall under the crushing judgment of God. And God will make all things new, and peace and health will reign supreme forever. This is the promise of God’s Word. And because the promise is waiting fulfillment, we are called to share in the weeping of the Spirit.