Extra, extra, read all about it!
So we pick up the paper, scan the headlines and probe the articles that capture our curiosity. Then what? Do we ever think about our response to what we read? Was I angered, saddened, gleeful, judgemental? Maybe thankful? Comforted? God knows the news before it happens, but just imagine him reading the newspaper. What emotions would be evoked in his heart?
I discovered a verse in Ezekiel this week that gives me a hint of what he might be feeling.
"Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked?" declares the Sovereign Lord. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?" Ezekiel 18:23.
God is not a furious punisher who gleefully wipes out everyone who opposes him. He wants people to turn to him, to discover life with him. The verses are interrogatory. Even the answer to the first question is a question! Dictionary.com says, 'question means to challenge the accuracy, probity, or propriety of; interrogate means to examine closely, aggressively, or formally by posing a series of questions to '. God wants to challenge us to know this truth about himself.
This is a God who is awesome in his power and his love. His justice and mercy can't be separated. Those who see tradgedy and atrocities as his wrath and judgement poured out, may conclude that the God of the Old Testament is too harsh. He's certainly not people-friendly and therefore, only to be feared, not embraced as Father God. Yet, here, deep in a prophetic tome of judgement, God bares his heart . Hardened hearts and the unrepentant must be chastened, but God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked.
Thank you, Father, for revealing yourself as a God who is merciful and longs for reconciliation. Now work in me that same heart of desire for the wicked to turn from their ways. Where I am smug in my righteousness, forgive me. Where I wish evil for evil, help me instead, to grieve for the hearts of people you have created and love. Help me to share the way to eternal life so more will know how to turn from the way that leads to destruction, and turn to you.
I've heard of someone who prays for community and country as they read the paper. Sounds like a wonderful habit!