So I come to the book of Lamentations. Poems of misery and sadness written after the fall of Jerusalem and the exile of the people. A few stray people, such as Jeremiah I think, did hang around after the siege. This was written by someone who stayed.
The city is empty. The agony is profound. The punishment is recognised as deserved, because of Jerusalem’s great sin. But that doesn’t stop the emotions, and the purpose of lament is partly to give space to emotions as you narrate bad things that have happened to you.
I liked the way their sins are referred to as a yoke. God wove their own sin together and hung it around their neck. Relatively, Jesus would point out, his yoke is easy. The tendency of lament can be towards self justification: “it’s not fair!”. This is showing an awareness of guilt and regret, and God’s justice in their situation, coexisting with sadness and suffering.
The flow of the narrative is from a picture of the devastation, to a recognition of the culpability for the punishment, then an acknowledgement of the emotions: the tears, the loneliness, the hopelessness and lack of comfort. It ends looking forward to the promised day when enemies, now gloating, will experience similar justice.
I’m feeling pretty sorry for myself today… More on that tomorrow. Today I’ll focus on having grief, but not being aggrieved.
I need strength to do today Lord.