How to Cry Part 2
There is a book of the Bible dedicated to sorrow. Lamentations is the Scripture's record of the mournful reflections of the grief-stricken prophet Jeremiah following Jerusalem's destruction. It is a Holy Spirit inspired lesson on crying. Yesterday I shared two takeaways from the Bible's book of tears. Here are two more.
Even in What You Don't Like, There is Something to Learn
I don't want to mislead you into thinking that Jeremiah is sadistic. He weeps well, but he isn't enjoying it. Lamentations is emotionally difficult to read. I cannot imagine what it must have been like to live through.
But it is in his Lament that Jeremiah learns. For years his preaching has been in hopes that it would turn the hearts of others to God. Jeremiah has poured out. Jeremiah is now wrung out.
But his weeping is not wasted. The Lord works to deepen Jeremiah's relationship with Him.
It is in this dark book of the Bible that we get one of the Holy Spirit's marvelous beams of light as he inspires the prophet to write,
"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
I'll confess. Sometimes preaching is like trying to describe a vacation destination from the picture on a postcard. We sing Great is Thy Faithfulness. We often say that, "God is faithful." We remind others in their sorrow that "God is faithful." As true as those words may be, it is lament that actually takes you to the place where you truly learn what it means that God's mercies are new every morning and that the Lord is GREAT at faithfulness.
The Lord May Want you There, But the Lord Won't Leave You There
The demise of Jerusalem was providential as an act of God and consequential as a result of sin. Biblical prophecy is the ultimate, "I told you so."
"The Lord has done what he purposed; he has carried out his word, which he commanded long ago; he has thrown down without pity; he has made the enemy rejoice over you and exalted the might of your foes."Lamentations 2:17
You can apply this passage in particular and in general.
In particular, God told Israel that forsaking the Lord and refusing to repent would result in their ruin.
In general, not every loss is a particular punishment for sin. But every loss is a consequence of sin.
In His Word, God tells us that we will die.
In His Word, God tells us that sinners seem to prevail. Life isn't fair.
In His Word, God tells us that the world is beautiful and disastrous.
We can build.
It may burn.
That's the way it is.
So He has us here. And so, in every occasion of lament, we can learn and reflect and repent and change and grow and deepen.
Sometimes the best thing we can do is just shut up and weep, knowing full well that the Lord has us here, but it is not His heart to leave us here.
"The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth. Let him sit alone in silence when it is laid on him; let him put his mouth in the dust— there may yet be hope; let him give his cheek to the one who strikes, and let him be filled with insults. For the Lord will not cast off forever, but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; for he does not afflict from his heart or grieve the children of men."Lamentations 3:25-33
If we lament well it means that this may be one of the worst times of our lives but it may yield some of the most wonderful truths and experiences we have ever had with God.
So, how do you cry? Lament is more than tears.
Embrace it, don't avoid it. Work at it; don't just get over it. Listen to the Lord and learn from Him. Trust the goodness of God that He has you here, but he will not leave you here. Your time of lament may be one of the worst times of your life, but it may yield to one of your most wonderful experiences with God.
Sin is Never Worth It
Lamentations is a prophetic warning to us when we consider sin. As we consider sin the fantasies of pleasure become blinders to the coming consequences.
One of the reasons we want to rush through lament is because we want to get back to normal. For Jeremiah, there was no normal to which to return.
Those who once feasted on delicacies perish in the streets; those who were brought up in purple embrace ash heaps . . . Her princes were purer than snow, whiter than milk; their bodies were more ruddy than coral, the beauty of their form was like sapphire. Now their face is blacker than soot; they are not recognized in the streets; their skin has shriveled on their bones; it has become as dry as wood.Lamentations 4:5, 7-8
Lament is a warning sign that stands miles away from a place you don't want to go. You ignore it to your own detriment. Sin is never worth it.
But if you are there, lament points the way to a better place. "Restore us to yourself, O LORD, that we may be restored! Renew our days as of old - (Lamentations 5:21). Restoration is not a return to normal, it is a return to God. Lamentation is a reminder that you've been down this road and you do not want to return. It is time to go to a different place.
Read Lamentations 4-5
- What does this passage teach you about sin?
- What does this passage teach you about confession?
- How does this passage call for you to pray today?
Use Lamentations 4 and 5 as a guide for confession and prayer for restoration. Borrow some of Jeremiah's words to use in prayer about your own sin.