Today’s Reading: Lamentations
After reading 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings and 1 & 2 Chronicles, then listening to the prophets through whom God spoke to His people, it puts new context to the book of Lamentations. Using poetry, the author of Lamentations mourns the loss of what Jerusalem used to be. He weeps over the conditions of those who have been left behind as they starve behind the walls that were built to protect them. It would have been better for them to be captured and exiled than to remain there to watch what Jerusalem had become and to watch her children begging for food.
The Lord in his anger has cast a dark shadow over beautiful Jerusalem.
The fairest of Israel’s cities lies in the dust, thrown down form the heights of heaven.
In his day of anger, the Lord has shown no mercy even to his Temple…
Jerusalem’s gates have sunk into the ground.
He has smashed their locks and bars.
Her kings and princes have been exiled to distant lands; her law has ceased to exist.
Her prophets receive no more visions from the Lord.
The leaders of beautiful Jerusalem sit on the ground in silence.
They are clothed in burlap and throw dust on their heads.
The young women of Jerusalem hang their heads in shame.
I have cried until the tears no longer come; my heart is broken.
My spirit is poured out in agony as I see the desperate plight of my people.
Little children and tiny babies are fainting and dying in the streets.
They cry out to their mothers, “We need food and drink!”
Their lives ebb away in the streets like the life of a warrior wounded in battle.
They gasp for life as they collapse in their mothers’ arms. – Lamentations 2:1,9-12
“And though I cry and shout, he has shut out my prayers” (Lam. 3:8). Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever gone through a time when you wondered if God was even listening anymore? “Everything I had hoped for from the Lord is lost!” (3:18).
As we read through the grief expressed in the book of Lamentations, many of us can relate to a time when we were hurting over a loss of some kind. Perhaps you are in the midst of your grief right now. I watched a friend sing over her sick baby as she took her last breath. I held a friend as she collapsed in grief when her husband told her he was leaving. I have wiped the tears of my own girls as we told them we were moving again. I have cried with families as they surrounded a loved one whose battle with cancer was coming to an end. I have watched nurses tell pregnant women that a heartbeat cannot be found…
We have all experienced loss and grief in our life and we have all watched others around us suffer. But in the midst of utter sorrow, we have also experienced the mercy of our wonderful Lord and Savior. When grief threatens to overwhelm us, God steps in and we experience a moment of hope. We serve a God who is faithful and never abandons us, even if it feels like that at times.
“I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss.
Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this:
The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
His mercies never cease.
Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.
I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!’
The Lord is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him.
So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord” (Lam. 3:20-26)
I do not know everything that is going on in the lives of those who will share my morning coffee with me today. You might be in the midst of your grief or you may be seeking healing from past hurts. My prayer is that God will use these verses to give you hope and remind you that He is faithful.
For NO ONE is abandoned by the Lord forever.
Though he brings grief, he also shows compassion because of the greatness of his unfailing love…
Then why should we, mere humans, complain when we are punished for our sins?
Instead, let us test and examine our ways.
Let us turn back to the Lord.
Let us lift our hearts and hands to God in heaven and say,
“We have sinned and rebelled, and you have not forgiven us…”
My tears flow endlessly; they will not stop until the Lord looks down from heaven and sees.
My heart is breaking…
But I call on your name, Lord, from deep within the pit.
You heard me when I cried, “Listen to my pleading! Hear my cry for help!”
Yes, you came when I called; you told me, “Do not fear” (Lam. 3:31-32,39-42,49-51a,55-57).
Sometimes our present suffering seems more real than the hope of our salvation – the possibility that God will step in and rescue us from our pain. Remember God loves you. Hold on to the fact that God is faithful. If you seek Him, you will find Him. If you pray to Him, you will be heard. If you cry out to Him, He will hold you. God has not abandoned you. He is with you.
“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.
Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you.
I will hold you up with my victorious right hand…
For I hold you by your right hand – I, the Lord your God.
And I say to you, ‘Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you.
I am the Lord, your Redeemer.
I am the Holy One of Israel.’” – Isaiah 41:10,13-14