Merriam-Webster defines it as “an expression of sorrow, mourning, or regret.” But that definition doesn’t even come close to describing the grief poured out by the prophet Jeremiah in what has been called a funeral song for his fallen city.
Granted, things are not nearly so bad in our times, in our cities…or are they? How many, like me, are drawing some parallels?
It feels like a bomb has gone off in our culture. Over this last year, the gaps seem wider, the pain deeper, and the tensions stronger than I’ve ever known. The state of our union is fractured and divided, between urban and rural, white people and people of color, the secular and the religious, globalization’s winners and losers. Wherever one lands on the political spectrum, we’re all impacted by the weight of the explosion. Many can’t help but feel, whether conservative or progressive, that our nation is unraveling around us. –Joshua Ryan Butler, Funeral for a City, June 22, 2018
Funeral for a City was written two years ago; Jeremiah’s heart-wrenching Book of Lamentations in about 586 B.C. Yet both are so very relevant for today, and so hard to segment into smaller pieces.
So I encourage you to pull out a good bible, get comfortable, and read it for yourself. It’s short, even if you begin with the Introduction–something that really helps me put each book of the Bible into context. To dig even deeper, read through a few great devotionals providing even more context on Lamentations. Because without a frame of reference, it’s impossible to understand Jeremiah’s grief, his anger at God, and yet his continuing faith-filled hope in the midst of it all:
Lamentations 3:31-32: “No one is abandoned by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he also shows compassion because of the greatness of his unfailing love.”
The guy who has just poured out his heart over having been crushed by God still believes. Still has deep faith in God’s love and compassion. Jeremiah tells us that God does not enjoy hurting people or causing them sorrow (v 33). He tells us that: “It is good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord. And it is good for people to submit at an early age to the yoke of his discipline: Let them sit alone in silence beneath the Lord’s demands. Let them lie face down in the dust, for there may be hope at last” (v 26-29).
There is hope at last! I know it, all the way down to my toes.
Father, I want the faith of Jeremiah–the ability to look toward the future with confident hope even as I lament over the state of our world. I trust You, and I will wait patiently (help please!) for You to act.
Thank You for my faith: I know it’s a gift from You. It has taken me a while to recognize it for the huge blessing Your gift of faith really is. I pray that You will keep growing my trust to Jeremiah-like proportions, and that You will use it to bless others, to give them the hope that You’ve given me. What a privilege that would be! Amen.