Have you ever been so frustrated, so bothered in your spirit by an act against God by you or others that you could scream, or cry? I have been there so many times. I believe that every true follower of Christ has been there at some point in time. In my fervor, I recall praying a prayer that changed everything. “Lord, break my heart with the things that break your heart.”
Initially reading this prayer, you may be thinking, “What is wrong with that? You wanted to feel what God felt so you could pray.” True, yes. I will confess that I was not ready for the result of God answering this prayer. I was a teenager and I was on fire for Jesus Christ. i loved Him so much to the point where I couldn’t have a conversation without in some way mentioning Him. This wasn’t some covert mission to convert others, it was out of a well springing up inside of me that I literally could not keep quiet. As I was maturing more in Jesus Christ, I was learning about prayer and intercession, praying on other’s behalf. This is where deep conviction gripped me and I wanted to pray more effective prayers, with understanding. So I prayed the prayer I mentioned and BAM! I was so crushed and so broken yall! Everything I saw grieved me. Not just things about others, things about ME! It felt like scales had fallen off my eyes and plugs came out my ears.
I would hear conversations of my peers and get a sick feeling in my gut like I could throw up because God was so offended with the vulgarity of their speech. I was wrestling with a particular sin that God wanted me free from, and when I would not fight the sin but indulge in it, I literally felt like God would remove His Spirit form me and I would die. I grew to fear Him. When I saw behaviors of professing followers of Christ in their own spaces, and how their behavior was unlike that of when they were in church, I could barely stand it. In my private time with God I would cry and cry, and cry some more. Not out of judgement did I come to Holy God and ask for punishment for us, His offenders, I asked for mercy. I asked for our eyes to be opened and our ears to hear so we would stop making God angry; so we would stop re-nailing His Son to the cross. I wanted us free.
Eventually, I asked God to relieve the weight, because I would not survive under the grief He bears looking on unrepentant children. I asked Him, “Will you keep the fervor in my intercession, but lift the pain? Thank you for Jesus Christ who bore it for us. Help us to realize that and change.” He did it. At that moment, I had a whole new outlook on the weight of sin Jesus took for US on Calvary. It deepened my love for Him so much, and still does.
What grieves you? What grieves you so much that it makes you change, pray (for real), and even speak up under direction of the Holy Spirit? I believe that there is a good grief. It can also be called conviction. Conviction is defined as “a firmly held belief or opinion (Google Dictionary).” What belief do you hold so firmly in Christ that it compels action? Let’s look at a few examples:
16 “While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. 17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with both Jews and God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there.” Acts 17:16-17
Here, Apostle Paul had made a trip to Athens to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ and he was “greatly distressed,” because he saw that, “the city was full of idols.” Paul was experiencing good grief. It was conviction and grief that caused him to do something. He reasoned. Let’s look at another example:
19 “A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas.” Acts 19:19
Here, former magicians who had come to the knowledge of Christ Jesus felt good grief. They felt conviction about their former way of life and decided to change. They burned up the very thing that offended Holy God, not caring about the cost. Let’s see our last example:
3 “They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.” 4 When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. 5 and I answered the king, “If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my ancestors are buried so that I can rebuild it.” Nehemiah 1:3-4, 2:5
Nehemiah was a cupbearer for the king who feared God. He was brought news that the city of his people was without walls, protection, and open for the enemy to siege it. This deeply grieved him, good grief. So, he prayerfully and bravely asked the king for permission to go and rebuild the walls of the city. He could not stay still. What I loved most was his pattern before action, “I sat down, and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven.” He did not do rouge sisters! Chaka Khan lied, we are NOT every woman, it is NOT all in us. If GOD does not breath on our pursuit of righteousness, it is self-righteousness. If we go rouge with “remedying” our good grief, we take the good out of it.
All of us who are in Christ will experience grief. What make it good grief is if we are compelled in our hearts to change and act instep with Jesus in it. Nehemiah gives us a way to go to God with our good grief:
- Sit down
- Ask in faith
- Go in faith
Again I ask, What grieves you? What grieves you so much that it makes you change, pray (for real), and even speak up under direction of the Holy Spirit?