Each time Lamentations rolls around in my Bible reading plan I roll my eyes and grit my teeth. Yes, I read it, but I never look forward to it and always dread it. It’s a book of laments and desperate cries that seem heavy and discouraging. Who wants their day to start off with that?!?! Not me. But this time was different.
Perhaps the collective grief and discouragement the whole world is feeling set the stage this week as Lamentations rolled back around. But this time I didn’t feel a sense of dread; I felt a sense of connection. Oddly enough I approached it this time with a hunger. Why? Lamentations is set in the period when the Babylonians take Israel captive, destroy Jerusalem, and ransack the temple to nothing. It’s a book of poetry wrestling with the raw and collective grief of a people in complete disorientation. There was tremendous loss, mourning, and a complete disruption of Israel’s life, worship, and traditions. The writer recognizes Israel hasn’t been the faithful people she’d been called to be. There was a longing for God’s intervention to redeem and rescue.
While our COVID experience isn’t an exact replica, many of the emotions are similar. As I read the painful cries to God, I found that this time I was immersed and captivated by the emotion of it all. I had a new appreciation and relationship to the text that had never occurred before. There is a strange comfort to the deep pain the writer (probably Jeremiah) felt. We aren’t the first ones to be overwhelmed and wrestle with pain and loss. Yet in the midst of these gloomy verses a beacon of light arises.
“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.” Lamentations 3:22-24
I read those words as the sun literally was rising on my backyard. The sun does that every single day. Some days it is obscured by the clouds or rain, but it still rises. This day I was blessed by the rays of light. This day with these words seemed different. The sunlight seemed to be a gentle reminder that a new day was a reminder of God’s presence and faithfulness in this onerous season. We need the reminder of those words just as much today as Jeremiah did. Those hard to read books of the Bible, the ones we dread and put off, maybe the exact ones we need the most.