The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. (Genesis 6:5-6)
So were God’s feelings when he prepared to wipe makind from the face of the Earth with a great flood. Scriptures like this grieve some theologians, who have defined such an immovable and immutable God that he could not feel sorrow and grief; a God so robotic in fact, that he cannot feel anything at all. They call this verse an anthropopathism (it grieves me just trying to say that) which means that it is just a figure of speech giving God the feelings of a human, so that we will understand his great anger at sin.
Understand what? His anger? It is odd indeed that a God without feelings can experience anger, and that we should understand that anger better by calling it grief!
The Hebrew word translated grieved in that verse literally means carved. We could say that the evil of men cut God’s heart like a knife; one translation says he was heartbroken. The destruction and horror men have wrought on the Earth, the suffering and sorrow we have inflicted on each other, the selfishness and greed and envy and hatred that have filled our hearts have filled his heart with pain – the same deep pain that a mother feels when her precious little baby boy spurns her love and becomes a cruel and desperate man. We could fairly imagine the Earth flooded by God’s tears.
From Jeremiah’s fountain of tears, to Jesus weeping for Jerusalem, God has not hidden his sorrow at our self imposed misery. When we begin to taste the depth of his pain we can begin to know the intensity of the love that drove him to the cross for us.