What does mourning sound like? That’s not an easy question to answer. Each time a person experiences loss, we respond to that loss in a unique way. Some of us shed tears while others focus on their jobs or hobbies. Some of us spend much of our days in sadness while others will be surprised when moments of sadness show up suddenly an unexpectedly. We each mourn in our own way and that’s okay. The book of Lamentations is a book of mourning centered on the fall of Jerusalem.
This book is a collection of 5 poems, each 22 lines long. The writer (traditionally identified as Jeremiah) believes that God used the Babylonians to destroy Jerusalem. The writers knows that God can work “good and bad.” But the writer is surprised at one aspect of God: God’s silence. When God’s Temple, God’s Home, was under siege, why was God silent? The writer of Lamentations cries out for the pain to stop and for their suffering to end. The poem ends without an answer on whether God will do that or not.
“To us, lament often sounds like despair, the opposite of faith” (Lutheran Study Bible, 2009) but cries are not the opposite of faith. Crying out to God is a prayer. The very act itself trusts that we will be heard. And we will be heard because it is in the places where we would least expect God (in suffering, pain, catastrophe, and in the cross) where God is clearly present. “Lamentations shows us that in the most difficult of times and places, God is present and hears our desperate cries for help.”
Each week, I write a reflection on one of our scripture readings for the week. This is from Christ Lutheran Church’s Worship Bulletin for 8/28/2016.