Does God ever grieve?
If He does, what causes God to grieve?
Man and his free will… In Genesis, God gave us the ability to choose and from time to time, we choose evil, instead of good. Of course Adam chose evil in the Garden. By Genesis 6, God was ready to give up on humanity because God saw the significant violent evil men were doing to other men and God wanted to start over.
I have posted on theological determinism* lately, the idea that whatever happens in our world, God has control over it; whatever happens in our world, it is part of God’s plan; whatever happens in our world, God can use it for good.
Not in Genesis 6.
We all know the story of Noah. Why could God not turn circumstances around? Theological determinists say that is the way God works. God can take any horrible event on earth and use it for His purposes. Why did God have to have a “do over” in Genesis? We are so used to the unchangeable God; the God of Malachi 3:6 “For I am the LORD, I do not change”, but in Genesis 6, we read these words about God “And it repented the LORD that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him at His heart” [Genesis 6:6].
What did God have to repent about? He did not sin. His regret was that He created man.
I have posted that much of the tragedy that happens in the world is due to accidents. I have posted that much of the tragedy that happens in the world is due to choice.
God could stop those accidents and God could stop our bad choices but He doesn’t.
We make a mistake with theological determinism when we take it too far. We can give God so much power to manipulate circumstances that we take away the significance of our power to choose and that is wrong. God wants us to choose. He wants to see how we choose. The choices we make reveal the people that we are. In Jeremiah 18: 7-10 we see the words “The instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, to pull down, and to destroy it, if that nation against whom I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I thought to bring upon it. And the instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it, if it does evil in My sight so that it does not obey My voice, then I will relent concerning the good with which I said I would benefit it.” God is waiting for a nation to choose good. If a nation does, the nation will be rewarded. If a nation chooses evil, it will be punished.
So it works with man.
I believe that good choices result in blessings and a happy God.
Bad choices result in evil results and an unhappy God.
Pastor Hamilton in his book Seeing Gray in a World of Black and White feels that God can do anything He wishes but He ordinarily uses a less direct means of influencing the choices of man.
How does the less direct method work?
One way is the reading of scripture. I have always heard that the more you can get the Bible in you, the more you can overcome evil. In my life, I have developed a joy for Bible reading and certainly The Book is an inspiration in tempting times. It is full of passages of men and women who fail to overcome the temptation to do evil and they suffer the consequences.
Another way is the church. I know a lady at my church who has said over and over that she comes to church every Sunday to get her spiritual batteries charged. Well, there is a lot of truth in that. Regular worship of the Lord can inspire us to lead better lives.
Finally, the Holy Spirit can inspire us. Yes folks we all have one. Holy Spirit is what Christians call the urge to follow the ways of Jesus Christ. Non-Christians may think the Holy Spirit is just conscience but the triune God that resides within us is more than that. The Holy Spirit was given to live inside those who believe in Jesus, in order to produce God’s character in the life of a believer. In a way that we cannot do on our own, the Holy Spirit will build into our lives love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Yes, God grieved over man’s violent and evils acts in Genesis and God started over with his servant Noah and surely God grieves today over the million bad choices that man makes every day.
However, rather than start over, He lets us make our mistakes. Then He comes in and cleans up after us, hoping we make some contact with Him in His Word, His House of Worship and through listening to our Holy Spirit.
Can God use our bad choices as learning experiences? Can God use our bad choices as a means of reconciliation, atonement and salvation?
Yes He can.
I would imagine that it is painful to watch us fail over and over again but God is used to that. He knows our weaknesses; He knows our limitations. Like a loving parent, He lets us fail, hoping we learn lessons from our poor choices. He does not step in to save us…
Even though He could.
*all events that happen are pre-ordained, or predestined to happen, by a monotheistic deity, or that they are destined to occur given its omniscience.