March 4, 2020
6 All the majesty of beautiful Jerusalem
has been stripped away.
Her princes are like starving deer
searching for pasture.
They are too weak to run
from the pursuing enemy.
7 In the midst of her sadness and wandering,
Jerusalem remembers her ancient splendor.
But now she has fallen to her enemy,
and there is no one to help her.
Her enemy struck her down
and laughed as she fell.
We see several enemies in these verses of Lamentations 1. The most obvious is called literally “the enemy.” A malicious force or person is pursuing Jerusalem with the intent to do harm. But there are other enemies in verse 6 that are every bit as deadly. Her princes are like starving deer… They are too weak to run… In verse 7, we read that Jerusalem is struck down by her pursuing enemy, but fatigue and starvation allow her to be caught. Similarly, we can see in the beginning of verse 7 that Jerusalem is in the midst of sadness and wandering. She is grieving and lost. When she falls to her enemy, she is alone. There is no one to help her. So the list of forces arrayed against her are numerous. Starvation, fatigue, sadness, confusion, solitude, and finally, an actual enemy who celebrates her destruction.
Have you ever heard the expression, “When it rains, it pours?” It’s similar to phrases like “misfortunes never come singly” or “bad things come in threes.” When something goes wrong, it can feel like a string of dominoes starting to fall. One bad situation leads to additional challenges and pain. Suddenly we find ourselves tossed in a sea of sorrow, with nowhere to turn for comfort or respite. Just staying afloat requires maximum effort. Have you ever found yourself in that place? Are you in that place now? Perhaps difficulties at work are bleeding into your home life or physical health. It could be that mental health issues are impacting your job performance or relationships. Stress leads to insomnia which leads to fatigue which leads to poor decision making which leads to any number of mistakes, sins, or compounding pain.
Do you believe that God cares about the numerous difficulties in your life? Do you believe that God gives the same attention, for example, to the fatigue of a young parent as he does to a tragic death? The passage we read in Matthew last week describes the care God has for sparrows and lilies. How much more does he care for you? It’s possible that you have been told repeatedly to put on a brave face when things are hard. It’s possible that you’ve had your pain minimized by people you trusted enough to open up to. Know that God sees the multi-layered circumstances you are in. Like the author of Lamentations, we can lay all of our struggles before God. Nothing is too small to escape his attention and care. An unexpected benefit of lamenting the complexity of our pain is that often God brings a clarity we were not able to see. Today, try laying all of your sadness before God, no matter how small or varied. Don’t strive for clarity, but don’t be surprised by it, either.