Before I begin:
As we read the Bible, it is a good exercise to relate certain words or phrase to other language that is used in Scripture. For example, “water” is often related to the Holy Spirit or new life, and “law” often means the word of God. When we read a passage several times in this way, always trying to go deeper with the meaning of the words, we become more open to what the Holy Spirit may want to show us, and we begin making connections and viewing Scripture as a whole, integrated text.
I encourage you to try it with this section of Lamentations. I will walk you through my notes, but feel free to write down your own words and thoughts that stick out to you.
Darkness. Slavery. Chains. Crooked paths. These all remind me of sin and the way it’s described elsewhere in Scripture. Isaiah says those who walked in darkness have seen a great light (Isaiah 9:2), St. Paul says we are set free from slavery (Galatians 4:37, 5:1), the psalmist talks about bonds and irons (Psalms 107:1016), and the Gospel according to Luke mentions straightening our crooked ways (Luke 3:5). Other images of wrath, wasting away, desolation, grinding teeth, and ashes are reminiscent of the way Jesus and others talked about eternal damnation and separation from God.
Read in this way, sin and darkness are clearly contributing to the current afflictions in Lamentations. Her soul is “bereft of peace,” the peace which Jesus brings to his disciples over and over again (remember all the different times he says, “Peace be with you,” or “Do not be afraid?”). Because of this, she has forgotten what true happiness is, something that we can only find in God.
But the most intriguing part to me is reading that last part in full: “My soul is bereft of peace, I have forgotten what happiness is; so I say, ‘Gone is my glory, and my expectation from the Lord.’” She does not have the peace and happiness that only God can give because she has separated herself through sin. After realizing this, she says her glory is gone as well as her expectation from the Lord. But what expectation did she have? It sounds like she expected a life of peace and happiness without having to put God above her idols. Or perhaps she expected glory eternal life without living for the Lord.
Many times I have to stop myself and ask, What am I asking of the Lord? Am I really seeking His will or my own? Do I expect Him to bring me peace and happiness but ignore my relationship with Him in some areas?
Unfortunately, I can relate to this passage in Lamentations only too often. I have a litany of bad habits, sin, and complaints. I have a litany of excuses. And in the end, I lament over having lost my glory, my peace, my happiness. The pride in all of this is laughable! As if I deserve glory!
We can apply this outside of our faith life as well. What is some “glory” that you feel you deserve but have not received? Is it legitimate or is it pride? What are you expecting of God and/or others? Think of something you may be attached to. How would you feel if it fell through and didn’t happen, or if it failed somehow? If it was taken away?