Today you should read: Lamentations 1
Today we begin our journey through the book of Lamentations. As the title of the book communicates, Lamentations is not the cheeriest of books. But before you run and grab the Kleenex, it’s important to note that even though there is much sadness and “lamenting” throughout the book, there is still hope to be found. The book of Lamentations is a very practical book because it represents a spectrum of life that all of us have been impacted by in one way or another.
In the beginning of chapter 1 we see that Jerusalem has been destroyed by the Babylonians. The city of the people of God has been devastated. Imagine being a person in this city, one of God’s “chosen” people. Imagine being a witness to what looks like is a reversal of the promises God has spoken upon Israel. I’m sure there are numerous of you who have felt this at one point or another in your lives. Whether it is after the death of a child, a cancer prognosis, or any other of the numerous plagues that we face in this world, many of us have looked at our struggles and wondered where God and His goodness is.
In verse 18 we see that the reason they are going through this time of suffering is because of their sin. We have to be careful here, because if we attempt to apply this Old Testament truth to us, we could see every moment of suffering that we experience as a result of God punishing our sin. This is not true in light of what Jesus has done for us! (see John 9:1-3 for more perspective) The suffering that we face can sometimes be the result of sin (a stupid decision that is sinful or unwise) but a majority of the time we suffer because we live in a fallen, sinful world.
As you journey with us through this book, you will see that the theme of suffering is prevalent. But what this book should teach us is that even in the midst of suffering, we have hope. Lamentations 3:19-23 says: “Remember my affliction and my wanderings… My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me. 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.” The reason that the writer of Lamentations had hope is that he was looking forward to what we currently have: a savior. Jesus is the reason that we have hope in any situation. We have hope because he himself has suffered in our place. Allow Him to be your hope in a world that so often feels hopeless.
What would it take to shift our thinking of suffering from hopeless to hopeful? What ways have you seen God at work in hopeless situations in your life?
Posted by: Graham Withers, Pastoral Ministry Apprentice