I am always moved to tears when I read Romans 9: 1-2.
I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit— that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart.
Paul is sorrowful and in anguish in his heart. Anguish isn’t a word used much today. Deep-gutted agony is a good definition. Paul is even swearing to it, in case someone goes, “Sure, Paul. Right.” He is serious about people believing him.
Hang on … this is the apostle who said, “Rejoice always.” He indicates this sorrow stays. What could cause him such great anguish?
It is the lostness of his kinsmen according to the flesh, his fellow Jews.
He goes on in the next verses to say his sorrow is so great that if he could, he would give them his place in heaven. His heart breaks over their separation from the Messiah, Jesus.
Are you in anguish over your family? Are you sorrowful over your neighbors? Is your heart broken over your UPS driver? My husband weeps over our UPS driver.
Ruth Bell Graham did. In her book, Prodigals and Those Who Love Them, she wrote a poem to share her anguish.
If I Could Stand Aside
If I could stand aside
him walking through
Those Splendor’d Gates
instead of me –
If I could yield my place
to this, my boy,
the tears upon my upturned face
That is the heart of a mother praying for her children.
I know it is impossible. I know all the theological responses to that sentiment. That is not the point.
The point is a heart like Jesus, who wept over Jerusalem. It is a heart that mourns for people who don’t know their Creator and Redeemer. It is a heart that cares about people’s final destiny.
Have you great sorrow and anguish in your heart for your loved ones?
Where does the rejoicing come in? God who alone can change hearts is the God who sees and hears and does!
Lay them down at Jesus’ feet. Ask the Great Shepard of the sheep to go seek them.
Lay it all down at the Cross.
You are loved.