One of the hardest portions of the Bible to read through are the cries of lament that the people of God have raised. It is heart wrenching to see how a people who have been called by God to represent His Holy nature here on earth had turned back from that calling to pursue idols. It is hard to imagine how a people who experienced God fighting the battles for them desiccating their enemies have taken that covenant relationship with God for granted and consequentially living in disgrace.
To recap the Bible journey so far: First we saw how the triune God in Creation initiated His love for all of human race only to have it marred by sin. Yet God continued to reach out to Abraham (Patriarch) and his descendants establishing His covenant of love, bringing His people out of slavery from Egypt (Exodus) and leading them faithfully through their wilderness into the promised land (Conquest). As the people settled in the land and began to worship the idols of the false gods, God in His mercy continued to rescue them by raising up Judges to lead them. Eventually God allowed them to have an earthly king even though it broke His heart that they rejected Him as their One King. And during this Kingdom era, after the reign of David, a man after God’s own heart, seldom was another king who sought after God and the nation of Israel was torn in two as the cycle of sin and worship gods continued through the generations. Eventually even God’s patience ran out and He gave them over to their enemies as the Exile takes over.
So, this week, even as we pick up our Bible journey again we are confronted with the exiled plights of the people of Israel and Judah. And to get into the heart of what they experienced we need not look any further than the book of Lamentations where we see the poet expressing their sorry situation in very graphic terms and imagery.
The book is basically a compilation of 5 poems and even though the authorship is mostly ascribed to the prophet Jeremiah, it is not an established fact. Regardless of who the author is, we the readers are given a glimpse into the pain and suffering experienced by God’s people in exile.
There are plenty of references to the tears, weeping, distress and various other emotions of the heart. At some points the author directly addresses God for the plight they are in and other times acknowledges it was their sin that brought up their sorry state. Yet some of the most painful images are in chapter 4 where we see suffering described in detail.
Only in chapter 3 for a brief few moments we see hope arising when the author makes this famous declaration: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; They are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness.
And reading this also causes my hope to rise.
Yes, all is not lost!
The Lord is always faithful even when we are faithless. It is not my own acts of goodness but rather His love and His mercies that will carry me through.
But how do we get here from the place of utter pain and devastation beyond hope to come of a place of being able to put hope back where it belongs? How can we rise to even bring ourselves to hope in our loving merciful heavenly Father again?
The only way we can get to this place of hope arising back in us is by not closing all channels of communication with God. In our pain and sorrow it is important we continue expressing our feelings to God no matter how raw or pathetic it may be. No matter how warranted our suffering or plight may be, God is still able to hear. And as we continue to pour our hearts and emotions to Him, I assure we will see our hope rise.
Yes, I can say this confidently because I speak from experience. Over a couple of years ago, my heart experienced terrible sorrow and pain as the very thing that my husband and I had poured all our lives into was stolen from us in the most unceremonious and unjust way ever. We had made great sacrifices to invest into this promise we received of the Lord. Yet, overnight, it was all gone. Though not perfect in my response, the only thing I knew what was to do was to continue crying out God. I cried tears of sorrow, tears of regret, tears of pain and endured many sleepless nights for weeks at a time and for months. But through it all because I kept expressing my feelings to God, I saw hope and faith arise. And eventually I experienced the dawn and the nights of mourning ended.
So, today even as you take on this journey through the Bible, if there be any area of pain, I encourage you also communicate all of your feelings before Him who is able to take all of your sorrow and give you His hope and His faith.
The psalms of lament express the pain and suffering of the devastation of an exiled people. Yet there is hope in the Lord whose love, mercies and faithfulness never ends.
Weekly Reading Plan
And now here is the weekly plan for you to read through these poems of Laments yourself during the rest of the week. Remember, you need only 5 days 🙂
If you want to dig deeper here are some of my suggestions:
- Use the above schedule to read through all of the text
- Read one of these other Psalms of lament and look for common themes or patterns: Psalm 10, 63, 69, 74, 79.
- Optional (if you want to really read through the Bible in a year): Read Psalms 73-75
And that is it for week 26!
Happy Bible Learning!