A Personal Reflection on the Flood

I spent a good amount of time studying the story of Noah recently for a research project. I tried my best to utilize my imagination as I turned the narrative over and over again. I was stirred by two main thoughts as I read and wrote. First, I was made to pause when I read over the phrase, “And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart” (Gen 6:6). What could be so horrific that our Creator would express pain at the very sight of our existence? What in the world could cause the God who declared all things good to state that he wished he never made any of it? For me, this was a mack truck moment. I was bombarded and smashed by the terrifying nature of my rebellion and sin. I was undone by the fact that my existence could be grievous to my Maker. How does a creature do anything but unravel at such words from his Creator?

As I kept reading the story, I made a connection between two things that I had never recognized before. I saw the link between God’s grief and God’s wrath. God’s justice and wrath are the rightful response to sin’s rebellion. But this wrath is not calculated and heartless, it is laced with tremendous grief and sorrow. God is invested in his creation and the creatures he has placed here. His judgment is never distant and detached. The flood is a mighty demonstration of just power, but it is also an expression of great pain. It is the grieving God that sends the deluge on the earth. To me, this fresh perspective inserted a new picture of God in my mind: a Judge with tears in his eyes.

The second thing that stood out in the study was healing to this unraveled soul. I observed the kindness of God in a new way. The grief of God in the narrative was all inclusive. He was saddened by every moving, breathing, and existing thing (Gen. 6:7). He desired to blot it all out. The fact that Noah was not judged with the rest of the world is the result of one thing: grace. The text makes it clear that God showed mercy to Noah (Gen. 6:9). [1] In reality, the grace of God is the reason the world was created in the beginning. It is also the reason it continues to exist to this day. It is the same reason we live. God could have shut the book on us for good in the flood event.

Put yourself in Noah’s shoes. What would it have been like to watch the destruction of the world? What would it have been like to watch the waters rise and observe your town destroyed? What would it have been like to watch hundreds of people drown and realize that you deserved to be outside of the boat?  Noah had one of the most vivid firsthand views and experiences of the radical nature of God’s grace. I wonder what he felt, what he thought, and what he said during that time in the ark. The event must have changed him. We know he was tremendously grateful because the first thing he did when they hit dry land was build an altar, make sacrifices, and worship God (Gen. 8:20-21).

This narrative pushed me forward into the work of Christ for us, as it must. It caused me to step back and recognize that judgment, grief, and sorrow are all intermingled in a climactic way in the work of the Son. He was drowned in the waves of God’s indignation that we might walk the shores of God’s grace. Wave after wave of God’s sorrowful wrath pounded upon the Christ and ultimately swallowed him whole. This deluge of God’s judgment resulted in a torrent of mercy toward us. The flood has helped me grasp that God is very kind.


[1] Ross, Allen. (1998). Creation and Blessing: A Guide to the Study and Exposition of Genesis. (185). Grand Rapids: Baker Books. “A close study of the word grace will support the idea that it signifies unmerited favor. If the word is given its proper meaning, it means that the recipients of grace actually deserved the judgment too…No one escapes divine judgment apart from grace.”

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2 comments

    1. Mason, this theme on the grief of God is fresh to me. As we talked about the other day, it really does cause you to think about God in a new light, especially when you are linking it to judgment. Do you have further thoughts on God and grief? I wonder what it would look like to trace this theme out throughout Scripture. For example, I am thinking about the text in Ephesians that references the grief of the Spirit. Or there is the text in John 11 about the grief of Christ. This would be an interesting one to chase down. Any thoughts…..?

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