I will preach from Lamentations next Sunday. It is a short little book of 5 chapters that was probably written by Jeremiah. It is, just as the title says, a lament. Imagine Jeremiah, after 40 years of begging Judah to repent and rely on Jehovah-Jireh, sitting outside of the ancient city of Jerusalem and watching it burn to the ground. The book was probably written after Nebuchadnezzar had returned to lay siege to Jerusalem a 2nd time when the vassal king Zedekiah rebelled against the Babylonian rule. The rebellion was almost as foolish as the years and years of failing to listen to the prophets who called Israel and Judah back to right relationship with God. Lamentations describes some of the awfulness of that siege. Famine was everywhere and cannibalism was practiced. Death was everywhere and, as Jeremiah describes it, the lucky ones were those who died by the sword rather than the lingering death of deprivation. The remaining artifacts in the temple were either carried off to Babylonia or destroyed. The walls of the great city were flattened. The temple and the city were put to the torch. Most of the remainder of the Judeans were carried off as prisoners of war. Only the poorest of the poor were left in the city.
Jeremiah sat outside the city and wept at the destruction, wept at the loss of life, wept at the refusal of God's chosen people to repent and be saved by a God who desired for them to be his people. Jeremiah wept and mourned and yet declares, "It is because of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness." The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him."
Life can be difficult and much of the difficulty can easily be traced back to man's failure. We are trapped by the ramifications of our own sin. Death and all that causes is the result of the fall. As we watch humanity repeat the sins of avarice, greed, selfishness and the building of personal idols; can we mourn the loss of innocence and still declare the goodness of God as did Jeremiah? Can we, too, pronounce to a world that is exiled from its creator that God's mercies are always available, that his compassion is available, that his love is awaiting us, new and fresh every morning? If you can....then great is your faithfulness and great is the hope that you have and great is the reward that awaits those who trust in him.