Godly Grief

Jack Roeda

READ : 2 Corinthians 7:5-12

Your grief led to repentance; for you felt a godly grief . . . (v. 9)

A cartoon in the Atlantic Monthly shows a man in the foreground pulling mightily on a weed in his garden. On a distant hill stands a tree that is ever so slightly quivering. And you realize that the man is pulling not a weed but the root of that tree, and that his struggle is utterly futile.

Similarly, evil is so deeply rooted, so profoundly enmeshed in our hearts and this world that our struggle to remove it is futile. Just when we think we’ve made a clean break, evil pops up again like a weed. The realization that we cannot purge ourselves of evil and return to Eden can easily lead to despair, which the apostle Paul calls a “worldly grief” that produces death. Such grief says there is no cure; there simply is no balm in Gilead.

But there is another way. We can let sin’s presence produce in us a “godly grief.” Such grief also despairs of self – but not of God. In fact, godly grief turns from self to look to God for forgiveness and strength. The very presence of sin keeps us dependent on God and alive both to our own potential for evil and to the love of God that redeems us.


Lord Jesus, may our sins drive us ever more deeply into your grace. Amen.