Lamenting in Pandemic

Ever read the book of Lamentations?  It is a really DARK and SAD book.  We see the author (assumed to be the prophet Jeremiah) grieving of the devastation all around him in real time.  Look at some of the phrases used:

  • “For these things I weep; my eyes flow with tears; for a comforter is far from me, one to revive my spirit; my children are desolate, for the enemy has prevailed.” – Lamentations 1:16 (ESV)
  • “My eyes are spent with weeping; my stomach churns; my bile is poured out to the ground because of the destruction of the daughter of my people, because infants and babies faint in the streets of the city.” – Lamentations 2:11 (ESV)
  • “Our eyes failed, ever watching vainly for help; in our watching we watched for a nation which could not save.” – Lamentations 4:17 (ESV)

This is a far cry from the idealistic romantic comedies we are used to seeing from movies and TV shows coming out of Hollywood.  It’s tone is different from many of the typical upbeat worship songs we sing.  What can we learn from this?  At least one thing we can learn is that it is good to grieve.  This lesson is clear here, but also in the Psalms (and other places) as well.  We can grieve before God.

“Normal” as we knew it in February is no longer.  And, our new normal is bringing plenty to grieve.  People are sick and dying around us and around the world.  Our neighbors’ livelihood is being threatened by a crashing economy and hard decisions to lay people off.  And, the uncertainty of our future can evoke anxiety and despair.  In the midst of this, it is good for you to grieve.  Grief acknowledges that these things are bad; that this is not the way things are supposed to be.  Cry your tears.  Express your sadness and frustration to God.  Lament.  It is good.  God can handle it.  He wants to hear your heart even if your prayers are not filled with happy endings.  But, that is not the end of the story.

Lamentations has a bright moment as well.  In the midst of grief and lament, the author expresses unwavering hope in God.  I like how Eugene Peterson paraphrases this section from Lamentations 3:

I remember it all—oh, how well I remember—
the feeling of hitting (rock) bottom.
But there’s one other thing I remember,
and remembering, I keep a grip on hope:
God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out,
his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.
They’re created new every morning.
How great your faithfulness!
I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over).
He’s all I’ve got left.
God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits,
to the woman who diligently seeks.
It’s a good thing to quietly hope,
quietly hope for help from God.

It is good to wait in hope.  The hope we have in Christ is not ultimately a hope for healing and restoration in this world.  Though God is certainly gracious to give us healing at times and glimpses of our restoration here and now, our HOPE is not in this fallen world.  Our ultimate hope in the age to come.  When Christ returns, ALL THINGS will be restored, healed and made right… forever… and you will live in that perfect, unblemished, restored, holistically flourishing reality for all eternity.

God’s loyal love has not run out.  Great is HIS faithfulness!  So, grieve, but grieve with HOPE waiting patiently for the day when He will save, restore and bring healing.  He will not delay restoring all things in all the world back to what He intended in the Garden of Eden.

Would you take some time to pray today?  Take some times modeling the book of Lamentations:  spend some time grieving before God (give yourself permission to express uncomfortable feelings to Him).  Then, when you are ready, move to HOPE and longing for the restoration Christ will bring.

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