Grief is an emotion experienced by everyone; I had my first taste as a ten year old. My oldest sister gave birth to my first nephew, Timothy: I became an aunt! She always made me feel important as I helped her with the baby, usually as her runner. But three years later this little guy breathed his last breath and went to be with Jesus. Grief. Loss. Confusion. Why God?
Jeremiah, writing the book of Lamentations, must have felt those same emotions and more. His entire ministry was centered around one thing: be God’s spokesman. Sounds impressive but watching God’s words be fulfilled must have been devastating for him. There is no satisfaction in watching the consequences of sin being experienced by those you love. And so Jeremiah lamented, grieved through poetry, as he worked through his feelings of loss, hopelessness, and abandonment. If you’ve lost a loved one, you can identify.
In his grief he writes as if Jerusalem is speaking; there is no one to comfort her. Jeremiah had warned this city that devastation was coming but she didn’t listen and is now experiencing abandonment from God. But take heart, God didn’t totally disown her, she will be back after suffering the consequences of her rebellion.
Isn’t that just like our condition when we fall into sin? God often allows us to suffer our consequences, as a wise Father, in order that we’ll turn to Him in our need.
Lam. 3:20-27 uses the word ‘soul’ three times. That’s the Hebrew word nephesh and it means our whole being: body, soul, and spirit. God wants to be our center or core, our go-to-guy but sometimes we are hard-hearted and don’t want to listen. Jeremiah encourages us to turn to Him because,
The LORD is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him. (Lamentations 3:25 NLT)
Where is Jesus hidden in this book? You’ll find Him as the Husband to the widow in 1:1, the Father to the daughter in 2:1, our defense attorney in 3:58, our Protector giving us a shadow in 4:20, and most importantly, our King in 5:19.
As we reflect on grief today let’s remember some truths from the Book of Lamentations.
The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The LORD is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!”
For no one is abandoned by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he also shows compassion because of the greatness of his unfailing love. (Lamentations 3:22-24, 31-32 NLT)
Call on Jesus in repentance during your time of lamenting; He will freely forgive and be what you need Him to be. His name is El Shaddai, our God Who is all-sufficient. He has within Himself the comfort, compassion, and unconditional love through Christ that will get us through to the other side.