Lament is a powerful practice. As we express our pain to God, we also declare our faith in Him. When we cry out to Him, we recognize the way sin has caused pain and suffering in the world He created. Lament is a way to express our faith in Him, even while experiencing a broken world.
While some suffering is caused by the brokenness of the world, some suffering is caused by specific sins in our lives. The people of Judah experienced this first hand.
God chose the nation of Israel to be His chosen people, the nation through whom He would bless the whole world by bringing about the Messiah, the Savior of the world. Because of the sins of Israel’s kings, the nation split into two kingdoms, Israel and Judah. Israel, the northern kingdom, consisted of ten tribes, while Judah, in the south, consisted of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. The northern kingdom of Israel was taken over by the Assyrians in 722 ʙ.ᴄ. The southern kingdom remained for about another 125 years until it too was destroyed, this time by the Babylonians. 2 Chronicles offers a detailed explanation of why the nation of Judah was destroyed by its enemies:
“The Lᴏʀᴅ God of their ancestors continually warned them through his messengers, for he felt compassion for his people and his dwelling place. But they mocked God’s messengers, despised his warnings, and ridiculed his prophets. Finally the Lᴏʀᴅ got very angry at his people and there was no one who could prevent his judgment. He brought against them the king of the Babylonians, who slaughtered their young men in their temple. He did not spare young men or women, or even the old and aging. God handed everyone over to him. He carried away to Babylon all the items in God’s temple, whether large or small, as well as what was in the treasuries of the Lᴏʀᴅ’s temple and in the treasuries of the king and his officials. They burned down God’s temple and tore down the wall of Jerusalem. They burned all its fortified buildings and destroyed all its valuable items. He deported to Babylon all who escaped the sword. They served him and his sons until the Persian kingdom rose to power. This took place to fulfill the Lᴏʀᴅ’s message spoken through Jeremiah and lasted until the land experienced its sabbatical years. All the time of its desolation the land rested in order to fulfill the seventy years” (2 Chronicles 36:15–21).
God had faithfully given the people of Judah opportunity after opportunity to follow Him. Sometimes, the people repented of their sin and turned back to Him. But many times the people turned to false gods, worshiped idols, and became like the wicked nations around them—the nations they were instructed to destroy.
God is patient, compassionate, and slow to anger. God is also holy, just, and jealous. When God’s people continually turned from Him and worshiped other gods, He gave them opportunities to repent and return to Him. But their hearts were hardened. God disciplined His chosen people by allowing them to be conquered by the Babylonians. He used other nations as tools to display His holiness, justice, and wrath to His people.
The Book of Lamentations provides us with a firsthand account of the destruction of Jerusalem. The prophet Jeremiah, the same prophet who spent decades calling the people of Judah to repent, cried out over the destruction of the city and the temple. He expressed deep sorrow over what happened to God’s people. He lamented because of the sin of the nation, recognizing their rebellion against God.
Yet even in His lament, Jeremiah offered hope. He cried out in acknowledgment that God had destroyed and disciplined His people. God’s holiness had been mocked by His people, and He finally poured out His judgment on them. Jeremiah’s lament displayed a recognition of the holiness of God. He declared that God was right to bring this judgment on His people because they had sinned against Him and refused to repent. Jeremiah’s lament is a declaration that disobeying God brings destruction and that repentance is the only way back to Him.
God is just and holy. He cannot and will not tolerate sin. And God is forgiving; He allows His people to repent and return to Him. Because Jesus died for us, He took the penalty we deserved for our sin. He is now our advocate, continually going before the Father on our behalf. If we are believers in Christ, when we repent of our sin, we can have confidence that we are fully forgiven and restored to a perfect relationship with Jesus Christ and God the Father.
Maybe, you’re reading this and have not yet decided to trust Christ with your life. Perhaps you still believe that you have to balance out all the good and bad things you do, making sure to avoid judgment based on your own merit. Thankfully, that is not the case. Today, you can believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who came to earth to save you from the punishment you deserve. He took your place, and He endured the wrath of God—the punishment you were meant to receive—so you could have a relationship with God. Now, when you believe in Him, believing that He lived a perfect life, died, and rose again and that His sacrifice is all you need to be made right with God, you can have life in Him!
He is compassionate and long-suffering, and He is holy. His holiness is why He cannot tolerate sin. Today, we do not experience the wrath of God the way Jeremiah did. Instead, the wrath of God has been poured out on His Son, Jesus, so that we can know Him. When we place our faith in Christ, we are forgiven and restored to Him.
Week 2 Challenge:
Take some time this week to sit still and reflect on the wonderful deeds of the Lord. Record them in your journal or on a piece of paper that you can keep in your Bible. Write down a few of the things God has done for you, the gifts He has given you, and the accounts of His mercy and grace toward you.
Week 2 Reading Plan
Week 2 Memory Verse
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