Weeping for a lost city
The book of lamentations is Jeremiah’s eyewitness account of the disaster that befalls Jerusalem when the city is invaded by the Babylonian army. Jeremiah had predicted the devastation of his homeland, and he writes this funeral poem to express his grief. Masterfully written, each verse in each chapter begins with a successive letter if the Hebrew alphabet. The book of lamentations is a vivid reminder that God keeps his promises- even the promises of judgment and destruction.
Lamentation likens the city of Jerusalem to a woman who was once a princess and is now a slave; once a woman full of many children, now a widow, bereft and alone (La 1). She wears rough clothing and is slowly starving to death (La 2). Her children fall prey to sickness and cannibalism (La 4). The city is in ruins.
Yet embedded in the middle of this small book is a jewel of hope for the ruined city and for the devastated nation. Because of God’s character there are new mercies with every sunrise, justice in all of his judgments, and full of grace and love available to all those who seek his forgiveness (La 3). Jeremiah ends his lament with the reminder that only God can restore what has been shattered (La 5). Even as Jeremiah expresses his terrible grief over the destruction he’s seen, he also expresses his hope for restoration. His lesson can be ours. When we face tremendous loss, when life overwhelms us, there is One we can trust to restore. Jeremiah’s God is our God: a God of grace as well as judgment.