My mom died in 1996, but I can still remember how hard it was to watch my father’s grief. He was lost without her. I remember making the 60 mile trip every weekend to be with him, just to sit with him, take a ride in the car with him, watch an old movie with him, just to do what I could to help ease the burden of his grief. It’s not that I wasn’t grieving. I was. But somehow his grief looked different than mine.
When my sister lost her son in an automobile accident, watching her grief was, and is hard. There is a sadness in her smile, a tear in her laughter. And as someone who loves her, her grief breaks my heart. Watching someone you love go through tremendous grief has to effect you, too, doesn’t it?
So when I was reading in Genesis 37 this morning about Jacob’s grief over his son Joseph’s supposed death, I thought of Dad and Peggy. I could almost picture the look on Jacob’s face in the days and weeks following the horrible news because I could picture their look.
Then I found myself getting a little angry at Joseph’s brothers. How could those ten men watch their father’s grief over losing Joseph, when any one of them could have stepped up and told the truth? They had it within their power to relieve Jacob’s grief. And they did nothing. Jacob would have paid any price to buy Joseph’s freedom from slavery. Couldn’t just one of the ten of them care enough for their father to do what could be done to bring their brother back?
Maybe the brothers really did hate Joseph. But didn’t they love their dad?
Then it hit me. My Heavenly Father is grieving over his own lost children. His heart is broken when any of his children deny him, or ignore him. He agonizes over those who have yet to hear of Jesus. Every sin committed against my Heavenly Father is like a knife in the heart.
Couldn’t just one of us who are a part of his household, his family, care enough about our Father to do what can be done to relieve our Father’s grief? God will pay anything… he’s paid with his life… to buy his children out of slavery to sin.
Witnessing to a lost friend isn’t just about that friend. It’s also about our grieving Heavenly Father’s agony over our lost friend. I have to ask myself if I’m ok, knowing my Father grieves, and doing nothing about it. Can I love my Father and still be ok if he is grieving?
We Christians are in the same place Joseph’s brothers were in. We know the truth. Maybe it’s time we stepped up and did something about it.
Dear Heavenly Father, picturing you grieving over unsaved people breaks my heart. I love you. I want to picture you with a smile on your face, not tears streaming down your cheeks. What can I do to bring that smile back? Do you want me to talk to my neighbor today? Do you want me to call that person you’ve laid on my heart? Do you want me to introduce you to the waitress at the restaurant, my hair dresser, my child’s teacher? May I never be ok with the fact that you are grieving. May you find me a faithful daughter, sharing your Truth, and bringing a smile to your face. May I never be satisfied with just saying, I love you. Help me to show you how much I love you today by bringing one of your lost children home.