Lamentations is a collection of Hebrew poems that focuses on the grief, pain, and suffering that came out of living in Jerusalem when it was besieged by the armies of Babylon and eventually captured, plundered, and destroyed. The poet acknowledges that Jerusalem’s fall was an act of Yahweh’s justice, but he still laments, and even protests, the suffering that took place. He draws attention to how terrible the situation was and then calls for God to hear the suffering of his people and respond.
These laments give a sacred dignity to the emotion we feel when we see injustice and suffering. Through studying Lamentations, we can learn to see lament as an important spiritual exercise that brings our anger, pain, and confusion to God, trusting that he cares about it too. In this week’s study, we will practice lamentation as we focus on the poem at the book’s center, Lamentations chapter 3.
How did your understanding of Lamentations change as you watched the video?
Learning to lament is an uncomfortable yet important part of our spiritual growth, and since there’s so much worth lamenting in the world right now, this is an appropriate time to practice. May God give us hearts big enough to take up the pain of the world and bring it to him in prayer.
What is one broken reality that comes to mind as you allow Lamentations 3 to shift your mood?
What about this broken reality would be wrong in God’s eyes? How does this circumstance go against God’s plan for his world? Take time to protest, process your emotion, and voice any confusion in heartfelt prayer.
Consider Jesus’ cross and empty tomb as you lament this broken reality. How did Jesus enter into the sufferings of the world? How does Jesus’ resurrection change your perspective on the state of the world?
The book of Lamentations may not be the most popular book in the Bible, but it is an essential part of helping humans to understand an important aspect of their relationship with God – the expression of grief and distress. This book is a collection of five lament poems recounting the tragic fall of Jerusalem to Babylon.
Through personifications, powerful imagery, and other literary devices, the author of Lamentations establishes a sacred dignity to human suffering by voicing Israel’s immense sadness and loss.
The heartbroken Israelites recognize that the Babylonian assault was the result of their rebellion against God. God is slow to anger but will judge against evil.
By disobeying God’s covenant, the people of Israel invited war, poverty, and exile into their lives. These lament poems are a form of protest to these horrible wrongs.
Surrounded by disaster, the people of Israel hold onto faith that God will one day rescue them and restore Jerusalem. They see God’s judgment as seeds of hope.
The poet prays on behalf of all the survivors of Israel, pleading for God’s mercy and fearing him in reverence. Will Jerusalem be restored again?
Notice how the poet does not place his hope in improved circumstances; rather, he places his hope in Yahweh (vs. 24). What do you think it looks like to place our hope in Yahweh instead of in our desired outcomes?
How do the truths in verses 21-26 help us hope in Yahweh while we grieve?
The catastrophic events detailed in the book of Lamentations were the direct result of Israel’s constant rebellion against God’s covenant, despite his persistent warnings through the prophets.
Now surrounded by war, grief, and suffering, the people of Israel acknowledge their sin and cry out to God for restoration and repentance in these poems. Lament poems like the ones in this book were a way for the people to process emotion and despair and express themselves to God. Reading Lamentations helps us understand that communicating our distress to God about what’s wrong in our lives is an appropriate response to the evil in the world.