Lamentation. Not a word that’s used very much in everyday language. Maybe because it’s something no one really wants to experience, or even think about, in everyday life. But we’ve become kind of familiar with it as a family. Sometimes sparked by the simplest thing, like ordering a couple of PSL’s. And through the medium of group-texting, the “groaning” quickly becomes a shared experience, “How can it hurt so much?”
Last night’s detour into rekindled sorrow comes to mind as, this morning, I listen in as another recounts the almost unbearable weight of his pain.
Don’t know who wrote Lamentation for sure, but whoever it was, their mourning over Jerusalem’s fall turns extremely personal in the third chapter. The city has been razed and along with it his soul has been crushed. God has unleashed His just wrath on an adulterous people and he has experienced what it was to become part of the collateral damage.
I am the man who has seen affliction under the rod of His wrath; He has driven and brought me into darkness without any light . . .
(Lamentations 3:1-2 ESV)
His skin and flesh have wasted away. His bones broken. Walled in so that there’s no escape, he’s besieged by darkness, bitterness, and tribulation. His prayers go nowhere, bouncing off the walls, falling silent at the ceiling. It’s like the Almighty has been a bear lying in wait, a lion in hiding, pouncing and tearing him to pieces. The author feels like he has been lined up in the crosshairs of a divine bow, the arrows finding their target, again and again.
His entire being soured as he’s become “the laughingstock of all peoples, the object of their taunts all day long” (this is what makes me think it’s the prophet Jeremiah pouring out his heart). No peace. Having almost forgotten what happiness even feels like. His endurance is about done enduring. Every remembrance, another rock laid upon him so that his soul is “bowed down” within him. Heavy sigh!
And then you read this . . .
But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in Him.” The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.
(Lamentations 3:21-26 ESV)
When the soul is laid low, how important it is to set our minds on things above. When what we feel seems overwhelming, then we need to draw upon what we know.
But this I call to mind . . .
Despite how I feel, declares the lamenter, I know God’s love never ceases. Regardless of the pain, His mercies flow anew each day, like living water from cisterns that cannot be emptied. While I might feel alone, He is faithful. While the circumstance might make Him seem distant, He has promised to be my portion.
For He is good. Good to those who will look way up when they feel so down. Good to the one who seeks Him even when the sorrow seems unbearable at times. Good to those who wait upon the LORD . . . renewing their strength . . . their crushed soul again whispering, “Therefore I will hope in Him.”
But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope.
Calling to mind His person, who God is. Calling to mind His promises, that there is coming a day. Calling to mind His power, the power that raised Christ from the dead, “the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep . . . then at His coming those who belong to Christ” (1Cor. 15:20, 23). Calling to mind His provision, grace for today and bright hope for tomorrow.
Calling to mind what I believe. Faith being the substance of things hoped for. Lament but a catalyst to again be still, and know that He is God.
But this I call to mind . . .
As I seek to abide in His grace . . . and to live for His glory.