Lamentation

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Today is one of those days for me. Maybe it’s the rain outside that has me a little down, but I think it’s more. The news is overwhelming to me today. From the senseless shooting of 49 plus beautiful people in Orlando this past Sunday, to the 2 year old toddler drug off into the water by an alligator near the happiest place on earth in Florida. Add that together with friends suffering from sickness and unknown diagnoses, and it can start to wear you down. It makes me think of one word: lamentation.

Lamentation: “the passionate expression of grief or sorrow; weeping”

Oddly enough, one of my favorite books of the Bible is Lamentations. Believed to be written by Jeremiah the weeping prophet, it expresses Israel’s grief and sorrow at the sorriness of their condition. They are in exile, their land and home is in ruins, and they are lost. Their enemies abound and seem to have won. God seems to be against them and there doesn’t seem to be much hope. And you may rightly be wondering why on earth this is one of my favorite texts in the Bible! But here is the thing, in the middle of the lamenting and weeping and crying out to God in anger, doubt, and frustration, the author stops and offers this profound piece of theology, almost abruptly:

“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.” – Lamentations 3:21-23

I love the theology of Lamentations. The world is a wreck right now. It doesn’t make sense. All around is exile and hopelessness some days. I need something that lets me know that terrorism, hatred, violence, killing, disease, and death doesn’t win the day. I need something that lets me know and reminds me that these things don’t win, God does. I need something that reminds me that when it seems just the opposite, God hasn’t left and he is still Immanuel. And Lamentations is just that text.

I don’t go to church and have faith in Christ simply to be a nice, good, and obedient person. I don’t do it because it is advantageous to my social standings. I don’t do it because of fear of going to hell. I go to church and have faith in Christ because it gives me a lens through which to see the world. It gives me something to cling to and give me hope on days like today when it seems like hope has no future. I put my faith in Christ because when the world is caving in, I believe in the One who is steadfast in his love, who offers new mercies every morning, and the One who is faithful no matter the circumstances.

When it seems like the world is spinning in a circle of death and it seems God is far away, I cling to a text like Lamentations 3:21-23. I remember that though it’s hard to see, and against all odds God is near, he hasn’t left, and his faithfulness is great. Without this hope, I have nothing. And today I weep with, mourn with, and pray for those that are suffering.

Great is Thy faithfulness
Great is Thy faithfulness
Morning by morning new mercies I see
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness
Lord unto me

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