The world scoffs at a man weeping for
his neighbour’s sins as if for his own, or even more than for his
own, for it seems contrary to nature. But the love which brings this
about is not of this world.
Angela of Foligno
Many of the Biblical writers used the
Hebrew language to play on words – and I was tempted to spell the
title of this book “Veil” of Tears. We are familiar with the concept
of walking through “the valley of the shadow of death” – but is
grief not like a veil that separates us from so much that we love
Thus far we have considered God’s compassion for those who are
experiencing personal loss. As we turn to ponder the corporate
griefs that engulf societies and even nations, I have often been
tempted to wonder, if I may put this reverently, how God avoids
having a nervous breakdown.
After all, while the rest of us dip our hands into the woes of the
world and then relax in a shower and take the evening off, God never
removes His gaze from the sufferings His children are called to
What is needed, therefore, is a spiritual response to intensely
distressing situations. Jesus does not despair over them, for that
would be to deny the Hope that flows within the Godhead, but He most
certainly does mourn over them – and He is eager to find others who
will do so too.
Just as certain women dedicate themselves to sharing more of God’s
heart by “taking the veil,” so the Lord invites us to share the
grief that is in His heart. As He brings us face-to-face with
situations that are dishonouring Him, we will often find ourselves
expressing our feelings in sighs “too deep for words”.5
It is at this point that we find ourselves glimpsing a surprising
fact: this “veil” of tears actually becomes a means by which we come
to share more of the Father’s heart. This can be as true for the
social injustices under whose weight the world groans, as for the
impositions that both false religion and political correctness are
increasingly placing on God’s people – to say nothing of the flood
of immorality that saturates our land.
Perhaps the sharpest pain of all comes from seeing just how far so
many parts of the Church, as well as our society, have strayed from
the Lord’s heart. I have taken to calling this pain “Lot’s
||God rescued Lot out of
Sodom because he was a righteous man who was sick of the
shameful immorality of the wicked people around him. Yes,
Lot was a righteous man who was tormented in his soul by the
wickedness he saw and heard day after day.
2 Peter 2:7-8
Many of us are prepared to
share our joys with many people, but we reserve our deepest
griefs for a few tried and trusted friends. Sharing God’s
heart in this way sets us free from the self-absorption of
grief, and leads to such heartfelt intercession that it
draws us onto His wavelength.
If we get things out of perspective at this point, however,
we can end up confusing our own prejudices and emotions for
genuine spiritual discernment, in which case we will soon
feel weary and weighed down – and risk becoming a bore to
To avoid taking on burdens the Lord is not asking us to
assume and overloading ourselves, it is good from time to
time to check and reposition our burdens. Imagine a log
making its way downstream. Is it in the middle of the
current, or is it becoming snared and snagged on its
Reflect and Pray
Fine-tune our spirits, Lord,
to pick up the burdens
You are drawing our attention to.
Place the filter of Your Cross
between our own desires and longings
and the pain we come across,
so that burdens flow freely through us
to the mercy of the Cross
without getting stuck in the realm of our soul.
In the name of the One who ever lives
to make intercession for us, Amen.
Sharing the Father's Grief
Can I see another’s woe and not be in sorrow too?
Can I see another’s grief and not seek for kind relief?
Every experienced counsellor faces the challenge that if they give
themselves wholeheartedly to someone, they risk being sucked into an
emotional vortex that will leave them as weighed down as the people
they are trying to help. If they remain too aloof, however, they may
find themselves unable to reach the person’s heart.
More . . .
5 Romans 8:26
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