In Ezekiel 19 (starting here) we have seen God lamenting, expressing his pain, in the form of an allegorical funeral dirge, that simply says, “My children whom I love, you have betrayed me and become something totally different and oppressive, something I didn’t want for you. I have tried hard to express my love for you, so that you would be different.” God is sitting there, staying there, right in the middle of his pain. God is weeping.
Those funeral dirges in the ancient world were awful. Mourners would wail and weep loudly. Can you imagine God expressing that emotion? We need to. We can have a view of God as if he is totally unaffected, that he is so perfect, so omni-everything, that he doesn’t have emotion. Philosophers describe God like that, but the Bible does not. I am glad Ezekiel 19 is in the Bible because it is one of the many passages where we see God’s heart, his emotion, his brokenness and frustration.
God is showing us how to lament.
And God wants his people to get the message that he is lamenting about them. How would you feel if God revealed to you that he was lamenting over you? What if you found out that God was looking at his relationship with you saying, “My child, why do I hardly hear from you?” What would it feel like if God said to you, “I love you dear one, how can you avoid me so much? How can you treat me like this?” I could go on and on. It gets heavy quick, doesn’t it? We don’t want to imagine God expressing emotion over us, unless it is only positive emotion. I absolutely believe that God is looking at each of us saying, “You are my beloved.” He absolutely loves us. He absolutely loves Israel. But just like Israel betrayed God, God is fully aware that you and I can betray him, take him for granted, get ashamed of him, or ignore him. God is fully aware that we can get really hyped up over sports, and yet we have a hard time getting excited about him. When someone loves deeply, they can hurt deeply too. We all know that God loves deeply!
I wonder if God laments over us.
We don’t have to wonder. We know it. God laments over us too.
But remember that lament is a reaching out. When we lament to God, we are reaching out in faith. It an act of faith. When God laments to us, he is reaching out in love. When he laments over you, it is because he so deeply wants to be in a closer relationship with you!
Let us be a people who embrace lament, like our God is a God who laments. May lament be a regular practice in our lives, turning us to the God who loves us. I encourage you add lament in your life. But also add confession and repentance for those choices in your life that might cause God to lament over you. We heard that last week in Ezekiel 18. Scan back at the very last verse of chapter 18, verse 32. God takes no pleasure in the death of anyone. He doesn’t want to be singing a funeral song. So he calls for his people to repent, to return to him.
Add confession and repentance to your practice of prayer. Restore your relationship with him, even every day if you need.
That’s the beautiful hope we have. That our God is a God who makes dead things come back to life. When we confess and repent, it can turn his funeral song into a song of celebration.