A dear friend lost her longed prayed-for baby on Saturday and I am grieving with her and her husband this week. It surprises me every time just how tender I still am over our own still-recent grief-- despite the joy of Judah. This loss in the life of a friend re-opens an old wound for me, the more painfully for seeing that grief reflected so freshly in her life.
My grandmothers on both sides of our family are seriously ill right now, and Dad's mother may not be with us even come Christmas (barring God's intervention).
As a result of these things, in our nightly discussion Jeremiah and were pondering the nature of the grief of God. How does God view death? In what way does He grieve with us?
Jeremiah commented that depth of grief seems to be related to knowledge of the dead. In other words, the death of a little-known great-uncle (hypothetical--don't think I even have any great-uncles...) who lives 100 miles away is less grievous to me than the death of the Grandmother who was a daily part of my childhood for seven years. The death of our unborn child last year, versus Sofi or Judah's death. See what I mean?
So we wondered if God, who knows each of us more intimately than anyone, would grieve for our death more deeply than anyone else. But God, I think, views death a little differently than we do. We're on the losing end, but He's on the receiving end. When my precious little one went to be with the Lord, I grieved for her loss, but God received her with loving arms and cherishes her even now, I am sure, as He would any child of mine that He would see fit to call home.
I also don't think that death itself causes God grief because He has conquered death through the resurrection of Christ, why should it hold any power of grief for Him? And so I think I've settled on this for now; God grieves over death for our sakes-- those of us "left behind", for the pain it causes us to lose that which we have loved or longed for. There is no longer any pain or sorrow in death itself, only in being left behind. And even that, for a believer, is tempered with the knowledge that our loved one is going from our arms to the arms of one who loves them even more than we ever could and some day we will join then there.
Thinking about it this way really brought home for me just how significant the difference is between the Christian and the non-christian when faced with the reality and cruelty of death. Imagine the pain of the finality of death without Christ. It is completely "loss", there is no one on the receiving end for the loved one who is leaving us. How sad....