In the book of Psalms, there is an ebb and flow of praises, thanksgiving, sadness and lamenting, and a return to joy and hope. The difficult thing about Lamentations is that it never really seems to return to the praise and thanksgiving (at least not with the same vigor as the psalmist). The language and imagery seem to remain in sorrow, briefly emerge with hope in God, and go right back to sorrow.
Yet this book is still included in the Bible. It is still the divine Word of God. So what can we take away from it? I think verse 19 sums it up nicely. It says, “But you, Lord, are enthroned forever; your throne stands from age to age.”
The fact is that sometimes we don’t ever really discover all the things to be thankful for, as much as we should try. We don’t always understand, life doesn’t become rainbows and butterflies, and joy is really difficult to find. However, I feel like Lamentations teaches us to choose hope, even when all circumstances try to strip us of it.
We must choose faith when there are so many reasons to doubt, choose hope when we only understand despair, and choose love when it would be easier to spread hate.
And that’s what is the amazing part about reading Lamentations. We could oversimplify it by saying that because the person was honest and open with God and hoped in His mercy, she was an example to us. That’s not the fully story. It is precisely her choice to do these things in the midst of terrible suffering, anger, fear, doubt, and persecution. That is called believing without seeing, and that is what defines our faith as Christians. We have hope in God’s love and mercy even when everything in the world seems to be crashing down and closing in. And it is that hope in God that the rest of the world thirsts for without knowing it.
In our lives, WE must be the examples of courage, hope, faith, love, compassion, and forgiveness. The rest of the world is not going to wait around for us to become who we are called to be as Christians, and YOU can’t wait around for someone else or better circumstances. The world will continue turning, continue battling human weakness, continue falling into violence and despair until WE rise up and be the example that it so desperately needs.
Be mercy. Be love. Be hope. We are Christ’s hands and feet in our world. It starts right here, in your heart.