Hebrews 4:12-13 "For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account."

All articles are written using the NKJV, unless otherwise noted! All articles are written by David Hicks, unless specified otherwise.

Grief and Compassion?

The book of Lamentations is not a book that we spend a great deal of time with. Within the five short chapters are some of the saddest thoughts and illustrations imaginable. The book laments over the closing events of Judah , during the final reign of Zedekiah, when Babylon came and besieged Jerusalem , destroyed the city, and removed the people of the land to captivity.

Lamentations 1:5 “Her adversaries have become the master, Her enemies prosper; For the Lord has afflicted her Because of the multitude of her transgressions. Her children have gone into captivity before the enemy.”

Lamentations 2:7-12 “The Lord has spurned His altar, He has abandoned His sanctuary; He has given up the walls of her palaces Into the hand of the enemy. They have made a noise in the house of the Lord As on the day of a set feast.

8 The Lord has purposed to destroy The wall of the daughter of Zion . He has stretched out a line; He has not withdrawn His hand from destroying; Therefore He has caused the rampart and wall to lament; They languished together.

9 Her gates have sunk into the ground; He has destroyed and broken her bars. Her king and her princes are among the nations; The Law is no more, And her prophets find no vision from the Lord .

10 The elders of the daughter of Zion Sit on the ground and keep silence; They throw dust on their heads And gird themselves with sackcloth. The virgins of Jerusalem Bow their heads to the ground.

11 My eyes fail with tears, My heart is troubled; My bile is poured on the ground Because of the destruction of the daughter of my people, Because the children and the infants Faint in the streets of the city.

12 They say to their mothers, "Where is grain and wine?" As they swoon like the wounded In the streets of the city, As their life is poured out In their mothers' bosom.

Lamentations 2:20-21 "See, O Lord , and consider! To whom have You done this? Should the women eat their offspring, The children they have cuddled? Should the priest and prophet be slain In the sanctuary of the Lord?

21 "Young and old lie On the ground in the streets; My virgins and my young men

Have fallen by the sword; You have slain them in the day of Your anger, You have slaughtered and not pitied.”

Lamentations 4:4 “The tongue of the infant clings To the roof of its mouth for thirst; The young children ask for bread, But no one breaks it for them.”

Lamentations 4:9 “Those slain by the sword are better off Than those who die of hunger; For these pine away, Stricken for lack of the fruits of the field.”

Lament. 4:12 “The kings of the earth, And all inhabitants of the world, Would not have believed That the adversary and the enemy Could enter the gates of Jerusalem ”


These are just a glimpse into the horrific images that Jeremiah sees as he portrays the months of siege, death, petulance, hunger, war, destruction, and finally captivity for those who somehow survived.

The sad landscape of this destruction and carnage is portrayed in a very unique writing style called acrostic or alphabetical style. Jeremiah begins each chapter with the first letter in the 22 letter Hebrew alphabet ( aleph ) and progresses through the chapter until he reaches the last letter in the alphabet. In this fashion, he weeps literally from A to Z.

There is one slight anomaly to this 22 letter style, and we find it in the 3 rd chapter. This chapter is written in acrostic triplets. The first three verse starting with the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, with three verses for each consecutive letter; thus the difference of 66 verses instead of 22.

Additionally, in the third chapter Jeremiah helps the reader to identify with his grief by sharing his personal insight and feelings about this horrible occasion. Readers always respond best to personal insights and this is what Jeremiah offers.

Directly in the middle of this chapter and uniquely in the middle of the book itself, lies three verses that I want to share with you, note:

Lamentations 3:31-33 “For the Lord will not cast off forever. 32 Though He causes grief , Yet He will show compassion According to the multitude of His mercies . 33 For He does not afflict willingly, Nor grieve the children of men.”


In this enlightening statement Jeremiah distinguishes between the facts that grief will find us in this life and God will provide compassion. Here Judah was deserving of their punishment as a whole (because of their long apostasy of God's laws with idolatry and the evil associated with it); however, Jeremiah was grieved right along with the un-faithful (as well as Daniel, Ezekiel, Shadrach, Meshach, Abed-Nego, etc…). This was the message of Ezekiel concerning that fact that the righteous would suffer right along side the un-righteous in this life ( Ezekiel 14:13 -14, 16, 18, 20 ); yet, God would offer deliverance to the righteous. This is a universal message of grief and compassion that the Bible illustrates throughout its pages.


Grief: Grief signifies pain of the body or mind. There are many different Hebrew and Greek words used to describe grief. Primarily they describe a mental state of anguish, often visible outwardly. In every case, they are brought about by situations that cause pain in this life such as un-righteousness, death, war, illness, poverty, persecution, family, etc… All of which can be realized in our own lives.


Regardless of which situation plagues our lives, there is one universal teaching in scripture surrounding grief that must be recognized; we must endure it !


When Peter wrote to Christians concerning their life as pilgrims and sojourners in a foreign land, he described the Lord's expectations concerning how they lived in the world. In the world that first century Christians lived in, slavery was a normal part of life. Peter would describe that if a Christian found himself as a slave of an unjust master, the endurance of this unjust treatment was commendable, note:

1 Peter 2:19 “For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully.”


The Hebrew writer, in his scathing rebuke of the Hebrew Christians for their considering the idea of turning from their faith in Christ to go back into Judaism; told them that although this rebuke was grievous at first (chastising), it would lead to the fruit of righteousness to those who would heed it, note:

Hebrews 12:11 “Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”


There are many passages of scripture in the Bible that indicate the fact that no one will escape grief in this life in one fashion or another. The scriptures teach Christians that we must learn to refine ourselves in our faith by overcoming. This idea indicates that if we endure the tribulations of this life, we actually rid ourselves of fleshly impurities and produce patience, note:

James 1:2-4 “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”


This leads us to the understanding that God has provided, for those who are truly His, a tool to assist them in this refining process.


Compassion: Compassion signifies mercy or pity with a desire to help. A feeling of distress brought on by the calamity or plight of others, which inspires a desire to help.


Peter would tell Christians plagued by false teachers and prophets among them that God knows how to punish these false teachers and rescue or deliver the righteous, note:

2 Peter 2:9 “then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment,”


Since no one will escape grief in this life, Peter was not referring to a special providence on God's part for the deliverance from physical tribulations (otherwise God would be a respecter of persons, which we know He is not – Acts 10:34 ; Galatians 2:6 ; Ephesians 6:9 ; Colossians 3:25 ), but that He has provided, through His compassion for the faithful, a way of escape, note:

1 Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”


What is this “way of escape” that Paul mentions to the Christians at Corinth ? Remember that they are Christians (those that pertain to Christ); they have obeyed the good news concerning their deliverance from sin and hope for salvation in Christ Jesus! Even though they were not living as they had been called when Paul wrote this statement to them; however, if they would “take heed lest they fall” , God would still provide for them a way of escape.


There is an interesting paradox that exists for Christians, that helps us understand this way of escape, note:

Matthew 5:4 “Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted.”

Happy are you, if you are grieved?

You will find comfort in grief?

How does this work?


We need to go back to these Christians in Corinth for the answer. Consider that the wages of sin is death ( Romans 6:23 ), and these Christians in Corinth were in horrible shape in their service to the Lord. They were practicing sectarianism, they had preacher-itis, there was sexual immorality among them, there was no church discipline, they were taking each other to human courts, and they had problems with marriage, liberties, the Lord's Supper, spiritual gifts, and even the resurrection.

So, Paul wrote to them this first letter as a disciplinarian. Harsh words for a people lost in their own wisdom. However, these harsh words would cause them to grieve and then repent. In their repentance, they would once again find the comfort of Christ reserved for the faithful, note:

2 Corinthians 7:8-11 “For even if I made you sorry with my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it. For I perceive that the same epistle made you sorry, though only for a while. 9 Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance . For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. 10 For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation , not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death . 11 For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter.

Did you note that not only did their grief lead to true comfort, but also produced in them the fruits of righteousness!


So, What did We Learn?

Since suffering is part of life and no one is going to escape it (death, illness, poverty, family, jobs, war, etc…), we can suffer as those of the world that have no hope; or, we can suffer as true children of God and trust in the promises of God that He will provide comfort for the faithful.


Grandma Webb always said : “Be so busy doing what the Lord wants you to do, that you don't have time for the evils of this life!”

1 Corinthians 15:58 “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord .”