Tucked in-between the lengthy books of Jeremiah and Ezekiel in your Bible is the little book of Lamentations. At just five chapters long, it is easy to overlook.
Not only is Lamentations short, but it is also heartbreakingly sad. It reads like a tragic eulogy, in which the author (possibly Jeremiah) mourns the 586 B.C. destruction of Jerusalem.
How lonely sits the city that was full of people! How like a widow has she become, she who was great among the nations! She who was a princess among the provinces has become a slave. | Lamentations 1:1
Can you imagine how devastated the Israelites must have been back in those days? Their precious city, the city of God, lay in shambles. Jerusalem had just been destroyed by the Babylonians. Countless Israelites had been killed or carried off to captivity. With the entire nation defeated, there was no hope in sight.
Suffering was everywhere.
All her people groan as they search for bread; they trade their treasures for food to revive their strength. “Look, O LORD, and see, for I am despised.” | Lamentations 1:11
What’s more, the author recognized that this suffering was ultimately punishment from God.
the LORD has afflicted her for the multitude of her transgressions | Lamentations 1:5
In chapter 3, the book takes a personal turn, with the author describing himself as “the man who has seen affliction under the rod of [God’s] wrath” (3:1).
He has made my flesh and my skin waste away; he has broken my bones; he has besieged and enveloped me with bitterness and tribulation; he has made me dwell in darkness like the dead of long ago. | Lamentations 3:4-6
Sounds miserable, doesn’t it?
But then something astonishing happens.
p r a i s e .
But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. | Lamentations 3:21-23
Wait, what? What’s going on? This guy’s life is falling apart, his city lies in ruins, his future has never been bleaker, and yet he lifts up his voice and praises the Lord. He goes on:
“The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. | Lamentations 3:24-25
Friend, I don’t know about you, but these beautiful words are massively convicting for me. Because nothing we have ever experienced comes close to the misery that was going on in Israel those many years ago. Every trial and setback of ours pales in comparison. But here this author of Lamentations—be it Jeremiah or someone else—nevertheless lifts up his voice and praises the Lord. This is audacious, illogical, inspiring praise.
What about us? What excuse do we have for not praising the Lord? Are we not the recipients of abundant mercy and favor? Have we forgotten just how blessed we are as sons and daughters of the King? What’s keeping us from declaring the goodness of God?
So today, let’s praise the Lord.
Regardless of circumstances.
Regardless of mood.
Regardless of anything else.
Yes, it may be tough. But it will be beautiful. And altogether worth it.