How deserted lies the city, once so full of people!
How like a widow is she, who once was great among the nations!
She who was queen among the provinces has now become a slave.
Bitterly she weeps at night, tears are upon her cheeks.
Among all her lovers there is none to comfort her.
All her friends have betrayed her; they have become her enemies.
So begins the book called Lamentations.
Powerfully descriptive language describes the city and the people that God loved, but who rejected Him for other lovers and now has reaped the consequences.
Please read it through before you go on to get a feel for the misery of it all.
But you have to wonder… How can Gospel (Good News) and Lamentations (grieving) fit in the same title? Where is there any good news in all this anguish and despair?
The Book of Lamentations is traditionally attributed to the prophet, Jeremiah, called the weeping prophet. Nothing in this poetic book mentions Jeremiah, but he is the long accepted author and it is more than plausible that Jeremiah wrote it because he both prophesied with tears and experienced with tears the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple. He witnessed the invasion of his beloved country and the siege of Jerusalem, which included the starvation of the people even to the extent of mothers cannibalizing their own children.
When it came time to read Lamentations this time around, I decided to read it all at once. A bit depressing, all the moaning and crying about God’s judgment, though acknowledging that God’s judgment is just. God is fully righteous in all his actions. We do reap what we sow. We get what we deserve for our rebellion against God.
So, where is the Gospel? It’s found in Lamentations 3:20-26
I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall.
I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me.
Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;therefore I will wait for him.”
The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him;
it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.
Yet the Gospel is powerfully revealed in Lamentations. God is holy and must judge sin and sinners. But God’s love reaches out to the sinner, offering healing and forgiveness.
The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger,
abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands,
and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.
Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished… Exodus 34:6, 7a
Return to the Lord your God,
for he is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and abounding in love,
and he relents from sending calamity. Joel 2:13
This compassion, love, graciousness, and faithfulness of God is revealed most fully in Jesus Christ, the friend of sinners, who died for us on the cross.
This text from Lamentations is the basis for one of the best and most loved hymns, penned 91 years ago by Thomas Chisolm, Great Is Thy Faithfulness
Great is Thy faithfulness,” O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.
Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!
“Great is Thy faithfulness!” “Great is Thy faithfulness!”
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
“Great is Thy faithfulness,” Lord, unto me!