Read: Lamentations 3:21-33
Consider: The setting for Lamentations is that of the nation of Judah having been conquered by the Babylonians and the city of Jerusalem having fallen to the invaders. Not only had many people been transported to Babylon, but those left behind were destitute. It is in this context that the five songs of lament were written. Although tradition attributes Lamentations to Jeremiah, there is nothing in the book that mentions who the writer was.
If you take the time to read Lamentations you will see that its five chapters (songs) set out the despair of the Jews at what has happened. It highlights the sin of the people (Lamentations 3:39), the prophets in delivering false prophecies and for acting unjustly (2:14; 4:13), God’s justice in punishing the nation’s wickedness (2:17) and his continued faithfulness and compassion (3:22-23; 3:32).
In the middle of all these words of despair, in Lamentations 3:21-33, there is a message of hope for the Jews. This section of Lamentations begins with the words: Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope (3:21). The writer realises that only when we take our minds off those things that cause us to despair, can we focus on God and what he has done. The writer turns his focus firmly onto God and says: 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 (3:22-23). Even in the midst of situations that we feel could break us, God is faithful and compassionate. The writer then says: The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord (3:25-26). Turning to God in this way should result in an awareness of our sinfulness and need for us to come to him in repentance. Lamentations puts it succinctly: Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord (3:40). The writer of Lamentations does not say ‘Why me!’, or ‘Why us!’, he realises that what has happened has been a result of sin.
For us today, the message is clear. Even when we feel despair at what is happening to and around us, God is faithful, compassionate and just. While it may be difficult to re-focus our thoughts, we need to take time to be in God’s presence, reading his Word and in prayer. God knows that we are hurting and he is eager to comfort and heal us.
You, Lord, reign for ever; your throne endures from generation to generation (Lamentations 5:19)
Pray: Father, we acknowledge that even when we are hurting and despairing, you are close to us, wanting to comfort and heal us. May our despair turn to happiness, and our mourning to joy. Amen