Read Lamentations 3:37-66, 4, 5:1-22
Laments are not new. There are laments throughout the Bible from Job to the Psalms. They are a protest, prayer, and description of woe offered to God. The entire book of Lamentations is poetic in structure, and has a precise layout for the first 4 chapters with alphabet acrostics. although the author is officially uncertain many in the history of Judaism and Christianity, believe it to be Jeremiah.
Lamentations is read traditionally, on the ninth day of Av, (think sometime in August here) the day that the temple was destroyed, and is an annual fast day. Want to read up more on it? It’s called Tisha B’av. Lamentations is also often read during the last three days of Holy Week for Catholics.
The destruction of the temple ends their worship. Full stop of blessings, ceremonies, and cleansing. GAH 😩 there are no religious structures remaining there is only dust and repentance. (Lamentations 3:16) The landscape is even— rich, poor, priest, prophet, king, all are lumped together in this judgment day.
There’s shock followed by despair. A plague remains, national ceremonial uncleanness, because of willful sin, has left Judah ravaged. Judgment in the form of invasion. It isn’t just the loss of life, or a downturn in the economy, this is a complete devastation of the nation and the refugees are without comfort, and overwhelmed by calamity and affliction. You get it doomsday!
Have you ever felt like your prayer has been shot blocked? Walled in when you call for help, nothing is heard. This is why lamenting is in the Bible. Yes, this too, is part of a life of faith. The pinnacle thought is, it is good to wait on the Lord to seek God, bearing whatever yoke God has given you. Read it for yourself in Lamentations 3:25-32 the author describes this faith response to suffering.
Lamentations 3:40 Let us examine, probe our ways, and let us return to the Lord. Our suffering is an unfriendly refiner. We self examine, and if we are Job our friends examine us.
There is this confidence that throws open the door in chapter 3, ah ha the Lord will hear, the Lord has redeemed, and seen the oppression and the Lord will vindicate. Here is the mystery of prayer. You can be weeping and pouring out your circumstances and somehow in it there is a shift — convincing you though circumstances haven’t changed— God has heard your prayer.
It would be easy if the lament ends there, but it does not. Chapter 4 and 5 is there because the fight with despair is often times ongoing. If you have been there victory and doubt are wrestling. Lamentations will end in this ultimate closing prayer and question. ‘Restore us to you, O Lord, that we may be restored; Renew our days of old, Unless you have utterly rejected us, And are exceedingly angry with us.’ Lamentations 5:21-22