In Ecclesiastes 3:4 Ecclesiastes 3:4A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
American King James Version×it says that there is a time to mourn. We often think of that in terms of losing a loved one. However, in the Bible, mourning is encouraged at other times as well, such as when staring into the face of a looming disaster or realizing that we have strayed from our Eternal God. With so much trouble happening in our world, perhaps it is time we sincerely and deeply mourn!
On a recent Sabbath morning, I opened to 2 Chronicles 20 and began to read the prayer of Jehoshaphat. I didn’t get far before tears began to stream down my face.
After months of growing sadness about the state of my country, the sorrow and dread I felt for my country came flowing out. There are times in our life when only God can spare us. I believe that we are at such a juncture now.
In the book of Esther, when the evil plot of Haman to exterminate the Jews of his day became known, Mordecai knew it was time to mourn before God. “When Mordecai learned all what had been done, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and went into the midst of the city and wailed loudly and bitterly” (Esther 4:1 Esther 4:1When Mordecai perceived all that was done, Mordecai rent his clothes, and put on sackcloth with ashes, and went out into the middle of the city, and cried with a loud and a bitter cry;
American King James Version×).
Not only did Mordecai mourn, but the Jews in all the provinces where the king’s decree arrived decided to neither eat nor drink for three days and beseech God that He might spare them! (Esther 4:3 Esther 4:3And in every province, wherever the king’s commandment and his decree came, there was great mourning among the Jews, and fasting, and weeping, and wailing; and many lay in sackcloth and ashes.
American King James Version×). Now our Father God, being the merciful God that He is, both heard and answered them. The wicked Haman was hung on his own gallows, and the people of God dwelt safely for many years.
We must be wholehearted in our mourning for God to truly hear us. Notice that in Hosea 7:14 Hosea 7:14And they have not cried to me with their heart, when they howled on their beds: they assemble themselves for corn and wine, and they rebel against me.
American King James Version×, God tells us why He does not hear the cries of some: “They did not cry to me from their heart when they wail upon their beds.” God wants sincerity and truth. In the call to repentance in Joel 2:12-13 Joel 2:12-13 12 Therefore also now, said the LORD, turn you even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: 13 And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn to the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repents him of the evil.
American King James Version×, the Lord declares, “Return to me with all your heart, and with fasting, weeping, and mourning; so rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and compassionate.” Yes, there are times when we simply must mourn and turn to God, even if our leadership does not. In Amos’ day, God condemned the leadership for not mourning when they should have: “They have not grieved over the ruin of Joseph” (Amos 6:6 Amos 6:6That drink wine in bowls, and anoint themselves with the chief ointments: but they are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph.
American King James Version×). In Ezekiel 9:4 Ezekiel 9:4And the LORD said to him, Go through the middle of the city, through the middle of Jerusalem, and set a mark on the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the middle thereof.
American King James Version×, He instructs His obedient angels to put a mark on the foreheads of all those who “sigh and grieve over all the abominations which are being committed in the land.”
In the New Testament, Jesus taught that “blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Mathew 5:4). Jesus Himself employed this when He overlooked Jerusalem and considering the trouble that was coming upon it, wept openly (Luke 19:41-44 Luke 19:41-44 41 And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it,
42 Saying, If you had known, even you, at least in this your day, the things which belong to your peace! but now they are hid from your eyes.
43 For the days shall come on you, that your enemies shall cast a trench about you, and compass you round, and keep you in on every side,
44 And shall lay you even with the ground, and your children within you; and they shall not leave in you one stone on another; because you knew not the time of your visitation.
American King James Version×).
Yes, there is a time to deeply mourn and really turn towards God. We must remember to always have our hearts and minds turned toward God, but the modern-day nations of Israel have careened away from Him. Now is the time to mourn and turn our hearts, in humble prayer and fasting, towards our Creator God.