This week we are wrapping up our study of the process of lament and the book of Lamentations. As we step into Chapter 5, our natural expectation is for an ending similar to what we see in Esther, where all the injustices are corrected, and God’s people rejoice in their restored fortunes. Disney and Hallmark movies have conditioned us to believe that “happily ever afters” are the norm, and, in the midst of difficult circumstances, we frequently find ourselves looking for the turning point in our story when everything works out just as Hollywood promises us it will. However, such is not the case with Lamentations. The book doesn’t end with everything being made right. Jerusalem is still a wasteland. The death and devastation that is there in Chapter 1 remains there in Chapter 5. Those who lost their lives are still gone. Those carried off into slavery remain enslaved. Those left behind, like Jeremiah, are still confronted with the reality of trying to piece together lives shattered by war. Lament doesn’t restore our lives to what they were before the loss. What it does do is reorient our souls. Jeremiah’s circumstances don’t change, but how he relates to God in the midst of those circumstances does.
In Chapter 5, we see Jeremiah express the last two parts of the process of lament—the request and the expression of trust (ask and trust). In verse 1, Jeremiah asks God to remember, which is asking God to be true to the promises He’s made. In verse 21, Jeremiah’s request is for God to restore. A request to restore does two things. First, it looks forward to that future day when this world is free from sorrow and pain. It calls on God to hasten the day when all things will be made new and what was lost in the Garden of Eden is restored. Second, a request to restore asks God to bring healing to the situation we face. But lament doesn’t stop with the request; it must proceed on to an expression of trust. Asking does us no good if it is not done in faith (Jas. 1:6). In verse 19, Jeremiah proclaims, “You, LORD, reign forever; your throne endures from generation to generation.” Jeremiah is affirming God’s sovereignty over his situation even though it is devastatingly chaotic. Jeremiah is reminding himself that God is in control, even in loss. Even when our future seems uncertain, we can trust that it is still held by our Creator. Remember, if God can take the most unjust moment in human history (the crucifixion of Jesus) and turn it into redemption for mankind, surely he can redeem whatever heartache we might be facing.
Lament leads us from the reality of a world broken by sin into the realization of God’s power to redeem that brokenness for our good and His glory. While lament can’t restore our circumstances, it can restore our hope—a hope that does not put us to shame and assures us of the love of the God who is sovereign over all our circumstances, even the bad ones.
- Think through some of your favorite movies and TV shows. How many have happy endings or positive resolutions to crises? How might those movies and TV shows create false expectations in our lives?
- How does the ending of Lamentations make you feel? Do you struggle with the ending? Does the lack of resolution make you anxious? Why might that be?
- Review the requests in Ps. 10:12, 60:11-12, 25:6, 83:16, 79:8-9, 80:3, 28:1-2, 143:10, and 35:23-24. How many different types of requests do you find? What’s different about these requests? What’s similar?
- Why is it so important to move from request to trust? How does choosing to trust lead to healing, even when our circumstances haven’t changed?