The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him.’ (Lamentations 3:22-24)
There isn’t a more forlorn and desolate book in the whole bible than Lamentations. This book was written shortly after the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonian army in 586 B.C., and it’s a series of laments that can feel like a funeral with no end. The writer laments that so many have died, laments the fall of God’s City, laments the destruction of the temple, and laments that the Israelites’ whole way of life has been shattered.
The book of Lamentations might be timely for us to read right now, given all the lamenting that’s going on around us. We lament for those who have died and for the grief of their families. Lament for those who have lost their business or their work. Lament for those who are facing foreclosure or eviction. Lament the loss of so many freedoms, even if we support doing so. Lament for all the things that we once took for granted that we now miss—getting a haircut, going to a restaurant, purchasing groceries without worrying.
Even though the book of Lamentations is a really sad book, the author can give us tremendous hope. Even though the author laments the heap of ruins all around him, there is one thing that remains sure, solid, and strong. And that one thing is his trust in God.
In the midst of whatever lamenting, grieving, struggling, worrying, fearing, or missing we are going through, we can stand upon the ancient and ever-present hope of our faith. And what does our faith give us? Look again at today’s lesson. That God’s steadfast love never ceases; that God’s mercies are without end; that God’s presence is with us every morning; that God’s always faithful; and that our soul can know that God is our portion, which means that God will give us whatever we need during this time, during any time, during any calamity, disaster, or epidemic.
At the end of the Israelites’ exile in Babylon, the people returned home. Once back in Jerusalem, they rebuilt the temple, rebuilt the walls that protected the city, and rebuilt all the routines and rhythms that had once given meaning, security, and comfort to their whole nation.
With God’s steadfast love and constant mercies, we can trust that we will return from this time, a time that isn’t unlike an exile. With God working in and with and through us, may our hope be to not simply return as we were before—but return with more gratitude and compassion and wisdom. May we not only be lamenting during this time, but also learning, maturing, and growing as well.
- Who and what are you lamenting for during this time?
- How could you be using this time to learn, mature, and grow?
- On the other end of this epidemic, what will you need to rebuild? What needs to be the same? What needs to be different?