READ: Lamentations 3-5
BACKGROUND: The book of Lamentations is Jeremiah’s lament over the destruction of Jerusalem. Jeremiah understands clearly that the Babylonians were merely the human agents of divine retribution and that God himself has destroyed his city and temple. Nor was the Lord’s action arbitrary; blatant, God-defying sin and covenant-breaking rebellion were the root causes of his people’s woes. Although weeping is to be expected and cries for redress against the enemy are understandable, the proper response in the wake of judgment is sincere, heartfelt contrition. The book that begins with lament rightly ends in repentance. (Zondervan Study Bible)
THINK: I graduated with a degree in broadcast news journalism. On May 13, 2007, I was a proud Drake University alumnus, eager to join the ranks of news reporters and pursue investigative journalism. During my four years at Drake, I became a news junky of sorts. At times, my dorm room floor was piled high with newspapers – the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and Des Moines Register. If I couldn’t get my hands on the paper version, I would read it online. I made a habit of watching the 10:00 local news. I interned with television stations, I anchored our campus news station, and I regularly visited our state’s capitol to report on Iowa Legislation.
All of that time spent entrenching myself in local and world news at a liberal university had a profound impact on my heart and faith. Studying the realities of the broken world we live in day in and day out left me sad, confused, and more than ready for God to come and restore this broken world to Himself. I find it hard to turn the news on anymore, I don’t subscribe to the paper, and I rarely open an online newspaper. I’m not proud of that – it’s important to be an informed and active citizen in our communities and world – but I’m broken. I’m tired of the stories of abused children, I’m tired of sexual immorality destroying lives, I’m tired of murder. I’m tired of feeling overcome with grief at the state of our nation and world.
Jeremiah was also overcome. God allowed His people to experience tremendous, unimaginable loss as a result of their wickedness. The destruction of morality we are experiencing in America today is nothing like the fall of Jerusalem, and yet very much the same. The consequences for sin are always severe. The pain it causes is inescapable. Our response should not be one of ignorance, as has been my tendency. Rather, it should be one of heartfelt contrition. It’s good to mourn and feel overwhelmed with the sin in our life and in our world, but we cannot stop there. We must trust that God has not abandoned us to our sorrow (3:32). We must pursue Him with reckless abandon even when it is most difficult to see and understand Him. There are days, weeks, months, sometimes years that we may feel far from God. We may find his presence difficult to recognize, his grace hard to understand, his judgment heartbreaking, his ways unclear. So take some time to lament, but remember the words of Lamentations 3:21-23 and do not allow yourself to become consumed:
Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness.
DO: Write out your lament like Jeremiah did. God is big enough to hear your frustration. Remember His goodness to you. Fall on your knees in repentance. Beg God to restore us to Himself (5:21). Do not follow my past example and disengage. Rather, engage your mind in the realities of this world and of your brokenness so you may engage your spirit in prayer for your heart and the heart of this nation.
Written by: Cari Widdel