Word for the Week
Short reflections on Bible passages, with a frontline focus...
My eyes fail from weeping,
I am in torment within;
my heart is poured out on the ground
because my people are destroyed,
because children and infants faint
in the streets of the city.
Arise, cry out in the night,
as the watches of the night begin;
pour out your heart like water
in the presence of the LORD.
Lift up your hands to him
for the lives of your children,
who faint from hunger
at every street corner.
Lamentations 2:11, 19
Your child, perhaps. Warned against touching the hot stove, burns their hand and comes to you in tears.
‘Mummy, it hurts!’
What do you do?
Say ‘I told you so’ and send them away? Unlikely.
Instead, you sit with them. You hold them. You empathise with their pain and you seek to find a solution. And if you can’t… well, you stay with them. Pray with them.
This is what the author of Lamentations is doing here – but the sin is far greater than simply ignoring, and the pain far deeper than just a burnt hand. He is sitting with Jerusalem, not as a detached observer, but as an active participant in her grief and pain. His eyes are ‘blinded by tears’; he knows he is unable to offer any comfort, but he is not assigning blame. He dwells with them, calling them to prayer: ‘arise, cry out in the night’.
How often do we dwell with the wounded, and let them voice their pain? Offering no suggestions, no solutions, no blame… just sitting with them, journeying alongside them, allowing them to state the truth of their deepest hurt. Encouraging them to pray.
There are no easy answers in Lamentations, and particularly in chapter 2. Jerusalem is experiencing God’s wrath; that much is clear. The poet, however, is choosing not to pass judgement but to experience the people’s grief alongside them. The wrath may be justified, but the pain runs deep, and the brokenness feels beyond redemption.
To sit with those in pain, those who mourn, those who are broken, and to accompany them as they bring their pain to God in prayer is a profoundly difficult calling. But it is the call of Lamentations.
‘Pour out your heart like water in the presence of the LORD.’ To bring our own pain to God, to cry out to him, to sit with our brokenness, not wanting solutions or answers, is a brave course of action. But it is a humbling one – and one which Lamentations invites us to do.
This season of Lent may find you in a painful place – at home or work, with relatives or friends. Perhaps this is a time to find peace in stating the reality of your pain, or to discover the beauty of sitting with others as they share the reality of theirs.
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