A Time to Mourn

Jim Mead

READ : 2 Kings 8:7-15

“Why does my lord weep?” (v. 12)

Bob Pierce, the founder of World Vision, was known for his motto, “Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God.” Knowing what breaks God’s heart, and what should break ours, is not always easy to discern.

Over the course of several chapters, the Bible has revealed many things about the prophet Elisha. But only near the end of his career does the man who was originally supposed to kill the wicked weep in the face of the coming judgment on Israel. Elisha especially mourns war’s effects on non-combatants, “little ones” and “pregnant women.” Yes, he knew that God was at work, refining Israel through the fires of judgment, but he did not yearn for it. His broken heart reflected the broken heart of God for his hurting people, who would nevertheless endure the consequences of their disobedience.

People of faith often disagree over the question of punishment in society. There are a wide variety of views about retributive justice. But whatever position one holds, there’s no escaping the biblical example of sorrow. If God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 18:23), how can we? Jesus wept over Jerusalem’s obstinance; Elisha over the sufferings of Israel. They show that such are times to mourn.


Lord, let our hearts be broken by the things that break your heart.