Lord, I long to rest in You and hope in You. Teach me today what it means to live in You.
Read Lamentations 1:1-22
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.
Reflect on Philippians 1:21. Here are the words of someone living fully in the now, with the assurance of one day living forever!
Like some of the great psalms of complaint, Lamentations is a cry of misery which is directed to God, but not to begin with. First of all, Jerusalem is figured as a woman in various stages of disgrace (from the perspective of the ancient world). She is a lonely widow (1), deserted by her friends and lovers alike (2). Her children are in captivity (5,16,18) and there is more than a hint that she is a victim of rape (8,9) like so many women on the losing side of a war. The family treasures have to be sold just to survive (11). Desolation, shame, defeat overwhelm them; but aren’t they supposed to be God’s chosen people?
Jerusalem is not blaming God. She may have been deserted by her friends, but she realizes she is experiencing God’s just punishment, not his abandonment (5,8,18). We may often pray for God to make things better for us; but in reality, the sign of God’s owning us is sometimes suffering. (Heb. 12:7)
“Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?” (12). This phrase about the fall of Jerusalem has been turned into a lament for the death of Jesus, most memorably by John Stainer in his choral meditation on Good Friday, The Crucifixion. Are we justified in seeing Old Testament passages like this as a prophecy and foreshadowing of Christ? Jesus himself did, (Luke 24:27) as well as Paul. One lesson I’ve learned in thinking about these eloquent and moving laments is the way in which God identifies with suffering. He’s not like some distant deity who has set the universe going but is largely indifferent. All our tears are in his bottle (Psa. 56:8). We cannot escape involvement, including emotional involvement, in the sin and agony of our world.
Thank God that we can share the extremes of our situation with him. Thank God that he loves us, cares for us, and hears our prayers.
Gracious Father, You are the refuge of the distressed and the hope of the needy. Remind me that, in the struggles of life, You’ll always be working for my good.
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