February 6 | Bible in a Year: Exodus 39-40; Matthew 23:23-39
My heart is poured out on the ground . . . because children and infants faint in the streets of the city.
READ LAMENTATIONS 2:10–13, 18–19
Her father blamed his illness on witchcraft. It was AIDS. When he died, his daughter, ten-year-old Mercy, grew even closer to her mother. But her mother was sick too, and three years later she died. From then on, Mercy’s sister raised the five siblings. That’s when Mercy began to keep a journal of her deep pain.
The prophet Jeremiah kept a record of his pain too. In the grim book of Lamentations, he wrote of atrocities done to Judah by the Babylonian army. Jeremiah’s heart was especially grieved for the youngest victims. “My heart is poured out on the ground,” he cried, “because my people are destroyed, because children and infants faint in the streets of the city” (2:11). The people of Judah had a history of ignoring God, but their children were paying the price too. “Their lives ebb away in their mothers’ arms,” wrote Jeremiah (v. 12).
We might have expected Jeremiah to reject God in the face of such suffering. Instead, he urged the survivors, “Pour out your heart like water in the presence of the Lord. Lift up your hands to him for the lives of your children” (v. 19).
It’s good, as Mercy and Jeremiah did, to pour out our hearts to God. Lament is a crucial part of being human. Even when God permits such pain, He grieves with us. Made as we are in His image, He must lament too!
By Tim Gustafson
REFLECT & PRAY
Dear God, I’m hurting because of ________. You see my grief. Please show Your strength in my life today.
How do you handle the painful situations in your life? How might it help you to write it down and share your journal with a friend?
Jeremiah, known as the “weeping prophet,” is traditionally believed to be the author of Lamentations. The book contains five poems. The first four are written as acrostics using the twenty-two consonants of the Hebrew alphabet to mark the individual stanzas. The book mourns the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in 587 BC when Babylon defeated the nation of Judah and took its people captive. Commentator R. K. Harrison in Jeremiah and Lamentations writes: “[The poems] make it clear that the real tragedy inherent in the destruction of Judah lies in the fact that it could almost certainly have been avoided. The actual causes of the calamity were the people themselves.” Despite the repeated warnings of God’s prophets, they chose idolatry over following the one true God. Alyson Kieda