God grieves. We see it in Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Now, this is not to say that the cross is not the joy of the Lord, his good pleasure. Of course it is. Were we ever to come to God with the lament, “Oh, Lord we were such trouble to you. You had to give up to death your only begotten son on the cross in order to take away our sin.” He would reply, “My beloved son, it was my pleasure!” (Isaiah 53:10) Jesus too is happy to suffer for our sakes, “he shall be satisfied by his knowledge” (vs. 11). Yet, God grieves, not just in the Garden of Gethsemane but in various places throughout the Bible. In Jeremiah 9:10 for instance, the Lord says, “I will weep and wail for the mountains...desolate and untraveled..the birds of the air have fled and the animals have gone.” Yes, God weeps and wails! It was noticed many years ago by a theologian that at the Nuremberg trials, the Nazi leaders were stoic as they heard their sentences; contrast this with the Lord Jesus who was “deeply distressed, unto death.” (Mark 14:34) The question becomes, Who shall we learn from and emulate? Goering and Rosenberg? Or Jesus? Are we quite sure that keeping a “stiff upper lip” is the thing to do? Do we want to be like the Nazi leaders or like our Father in heaven?
Sometimes too when we are suffering, we believe ourselves to be all alone. We are startled by the depth of our grief and begin to think that suffering like ours must be rare or even unique; we fall into despair believing ourselves to be set apart. The Bible corrects this terrible error. In Gethsemane we see that extreme suffering, even to the point of death is part of the human condition, because THE human, Jesus suffers so deeply. What you are going through right now is part of the human condition.
Notice with me one thing more about Gethsemane. Jesus calls for his disciples to gather round him. In other words, Jesus reaches out for help. So often, we want to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps. “I ought to be able to handle this myself.” Here’s my reply, “Who says?” Not the Bible, not the example of Jesus! We were created by the Lord, in order to be there for one another. At Gethsemane, it’s true, Jesus’ disciples failed him. Sometimes some of our friends may fail us, perhaps by being distracted or by saying the wrong thing. Nevertheless, Jesus was not alone. He was saved in the garden. (Hebrews 5:7) He most certainly did not “pull himself up by his own bootstraps!” Preposterous! Because there was one friend who never deserted him--his heavenly Father. The idea that we should “go it alone” is a lie. Never be afraid to grieve, to weep, to wail and never hesitate to reach out for help, that is what your neighbors and friends, and pastors and acquaintances are there for! And know, that even if all these fail you, you have one friend who will never forsake you; your heavenly Father will lift you up, as on eagle’s wings. "And if it delay, wait for it!" (Habakkuk 2:4)