The Privilege, Duty and Call of Grieving – From Daniel 9:1-20
As I heard the news about the passing of the “Reproductive Health Act” here in New York this week, I was hit with a fresh wave of wonder at where we have sunk publicly.
Sin tends to be private. And we like it that way. Out of sight, out of mind. Or so the saying goes. But out of sight doesn’t mean absent – as we often psychologically experience it. We know, theologically, that humankind is depraved. We know Biblically that “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick” (Jeremiah 17:9, ESV). But we don’t often feel it. Even in ourselves. Maybe because we run from feeling it in ourselves. Even Christians.
Perhaps we fail to grieve sin well in society because we have lost the sacred privilege, duty, and call of grieving our personal sin well. But grief is appropriate and not to be avoided. The one who can really grieve their sin knows they can only do so because God has awakened them to it. This is not to be run from, but cherished. The one who deeply grieves their own sin can enter into the sacred duty of challenging that sin with some sense of psychological energy, rather than being apathetic toward it. They enter into the duty of putting to death the deeds of the flesh. And those who can robustly grieve their own sin can truly value striving after the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. The call to become increasingly conformed to the image of the Son.
But when we fail to enter into grieving over our own sin, we lose the capacity to grieve it in society as well. Oh, we might rage against societal sin. We will criticize it, rebuke it, talk about it, grow disgusted at it and try to legislate against it – but if we fail to grieve it, we’ve missed the mark.
Today I grieve that in New York State, the only crime punishable by death is the crime of being conceived and unwanted.
I grieve that the Church’s impact on our culture has been so minimal, that crowds of the wealthy, educated and powerful can send up cheers at the passing of a bill that makes it possible to slaughter babies in their mother’s wombs right up to the moment of birth.
I grieve that the Church has cared more to gain the approval and acceptance of Society, than it has of its God.
I grieve that our Governmental leadership is so bound in the deceitfulness of sin that this kind of legislation is not only thinkable, but able to be enacted.
I grieve for the multiplied thousands of Government and Society sanctioned murders this will result in.
I grieve for the children who in their most vulnerable state will be attacked, brutalized, burned, hacked, dismembered, crushed and disposed of like trash – in the name of economics, personal empowerment, convenience and a twisted sense of “rights.”
I grieve for the abortionists who will have this blood on their hands for eternity save the Gospel of grace in Jesus Christ reclaim them.
I grieve for the mothers who will always know they murdered their own children – for whatever reasons.
I grieve for the fathers who encouraged, pressured or just turned a blind eye to the women who bore their seed, but were left with what seemed like no other alternative but to seek an abortion.
I grieve for the attempt to utterly erase from the heart and mind of man, that each and every child conceived is an image-bearer of the living God.
I grieve for the way this mindset has invaded even the halls of the professed Church of God.
I grieve for how these steps lead our entire society deeper and deeper into the depths of our depravity.
I grieve for those medical professionals who will be marginalized, penalized and with little doubt, at some point criminalized for refusing to join this culture of death.
I grieve for all of us who just haven’t cared enough over the years more than to offer an off-handed “tsk, tsk” at the entire situation.
I grieve for way this disgraces, demeans, disparages and denies the good God who made us for Himself.
I grieve for the way this devalues unborn human life to the level of less than even warranting consideration of its existence as falling under the umbrella of “medical”.
When we learn to grieve our own sins once again, instead of wanting to embrace some form of grace that no longer makes sin a big issue – perhaps, we can begin to grieve public sin – such that God might hear and restore.
As we see the end draw near, maybe we can learn this sacred duty afresh with Daniel, who near the end of this great prayer of grief cried: ” O my God, incline your ear and hear. Open your eyes and see our desolations, and the city that is called by your name. For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not, for your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people are called by your name.”
“In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, by descent a Mede, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans— in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, perceived in the books the number of years that, according to the word of the LORD to Jeremiah the prophet, must pass before the end of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years. Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes. I prayed to the LORD my God and made confession, saying, “O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and rules. We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land. To you, O Lord, belongs righteousness, but to us open shame, as at this day, to the men of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to all Israel, those who are near and those who are far away, in all the lands to which you have driven them, because of the treachery that they have committed against you. To us, O LORD, belongs open shame, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against you. To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against him and have not obeyed the voice of the LORD our God by walking in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets. All Israel has transgressed your law and turned aside, refusing to obey your voice. And the curse and oath that are written in the Law of Moses the servant of God have been poured out upon us, because we have sinned against him. He has confirmed his words, which he spoke against us and against our rulers who ruled us, by bringing upon us a great calamity. For under the whole heaven there has not been done anything like what has been done against Jerusalem. As it is written in the Law of Moses, all this calamity has come upon us; yet we have not entreated the favor of the LORD our God, turning from our iniquities and gaining insight by your truth. Therefore the LORD has kept ready the calamity and has brought it upon us, for the LORD our God is righteous in all the works that he has done, and we have not obeyed his voice. And now, O Lord our God, who brought your people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and have made a name for yourself, as at this day, we have sinned, we have done wickedly. “O Lord, according to all your righteous acts, let your anger and your wrath turn away from your city Jerusalem, your holy hill, because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and your people have become a byword among all who are around us. Now therefore, O our God, listen to the prayer of your servant and to his pleas for mercy, and for your own sake, O Lord, make your face to shine upon your sanctuary, which is desolate. O my God, incline your ear and hear. Open your eyes and see our desolations, and the city that is called by your name. For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not, for your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people are called by your name.” While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my plea before the LORD my God for the holy hill of my God,” (Daniel 9:1–20, ESV)