March 18, 2020

Lamentations 2:16-17

16 All your enemies mock you.

    They scoff and snarl and say,

“We have destroyed her at last!

    We have long waited for this day,

    and it is finally here!”

17 But it is the Lord who did just as he planned.

    He has fulfilled the promises of disaster

    he made long ago.

He has destroyed Jerusalem without mercy.

    He has caused her enemies to gloat over her

    and has given them power over her.

 

Have you ever been on the receiving end of mockery? Did you get made fun of in high school, or work in a toxic environment? Perhaps your friend circle likes to pick on you, “all in good fun.” Mockery hurts differently than blatant hate. For some reason we are able to see hatred, like racism for example, as a fault in the perpetrator. It’s often born out of ignorance or assumption or misunderstanding. Ridicule, however, feels like deeply personal and well-informed contempt. Like we are so flawed we aren’t even worth being hated. So while bald hatred lets us see a fault in the other, mockery causes us to see faults, real or imagined, in ourselves. It’s adding insult (literally) to injury.

Such is the case in verses 16 & 17 of Lamentations 2. Jerusalem’s enemies gloat over her, scoffing at her destruction. What do we do with pain like that? The first part of verse 17 gives us a clear path. It says that the Lord did just as he planned. He has fulfilled promises he made. That doesn’t immediately feel like a solution, but there is some comfort to be found. Those who mock us are trying to force their warped perception of our identity down our throats. They challenge our ability, our intelligence, and our very worth. But in Lamentations, we see that even as Jerusalem’s enemies mock her, it is still God who holds the power. 

Just as an aside, it’s helpful to remember that Lamentations are poems about how the author feels about God. Some of those feelings are true. God does have a power greater than Jerusalem’s enemies. Some of those feelings are not true. God is not planning your destruction from afar. We must read in the context of what the rest of the Bible says about who God is.

One reason we can bring our pain of being mocked before God is because the situation is still firmly in his hands. We can admit the pain of ridicule without accepting the identity of it. Taking the hurt to God does two things. First, as we’ve seen numerous times by now, the act of taking suffering to God is a valuable practice in and of itself. Second, in the light of God’s presence, our true identity can be revealed and reinforced. A clear description of this process is found in II Corinthians 4:8-10. Find comfort knowing that as we take our sorrow and hurt to God, especially the pain found in mockery, the nature of Christ in us can be revealed.

8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.

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