A Return to Hurt
You are the Lord of new beginnings who gives me a fresh start each day. I praise and trust You.
Read Lamentations 4:1-22
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
Does the memory of past wrongs or pain still haunt you? No need to hide it from God. God can take it.
The relative equanimity and hopefulness of ch. 3 has not lasted, but that’s not surprising. We don’t emerge from trauma quickly, with just a snap of the fingers, and the process of spiritual formation is not like being on an escalator that is always going up. The extremes of suffering and atrocity, which most of us will not experience but are facts of our world, should not be suppressed. Justice, as well as individual and collective recovery and wellness, demands it. There is no stinting in the description of what happened in the famine that followed the fall of Jerusalem (9,10). But there is some sense in it, although only some.
The images of v. 2 remind us of Jeremiah 18 and 19, particularly 19:10,11, where the people and the city are warned that God will break them like a pottery jug, “because they were stiff-necked and would not listen to my words” (Jer. 19:15). In Jeremiah, it is the whole people who hear the prophet, but he gets beaten on orders of the temple priesthood for doing what God has told him to do. In today’s chapter, the failure of spiritual and political leadership in Jerusalem is laid bare. The glamor has gone; the princes are unrecognizable (7,8). The central picture, though, is of those who should have been the spiritual leaders of God’s people punishing those who were telling the truth. Those who should be visionaries are actually blind. Those who should be examples of religious purity are unclean. It’s not clear whether this is because they have shed the blood of the true prophets, or, as some commentators suggest, because they have been idolatrous. Either way, it’s a sad, sad picture, indeed.
Take time to pray for your spiritual and political leaders. If you are in a position of leadership, ask for courage to speak the uncomfortable but necessary truths in love, whenever necessary.
Compassionate Lord, You are the comfort of the sad, the strength of sufferers. Grant Your mercy to those who are struggling. May I be an instrument of grace to all.
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