Feeling Abandoned by God
Verse 17 of today’s passage gives voice to the legitimacy of feeling abandoned by God in the midst of grief. It reads, “Zion stretches out her hands, but there is no one to comfort her. The Lord has decreed for Jacob that his neighbors become his foes; Jerusalem has become an unclean thing among them.”
Not only has God not comforted Jerusalem, Jerusalem has received more sorrow in the place of comfort!
Often, we don’t want to verbalize feeling abandoned by God. The framework we have created for what prayer looks like rarely (if ever) includes telling God that he’s abandoned us. However, allowing deep lament and verbalizing feelings of abandonment in our times of prayer is healthy. It can act as a catalyst for more honest engagement with God.
Charges Against God
In today’s passage, Jerusalem levels many serious charges against God. We know that God is good, righteous, and that he loves us. Yet when we experience periods of extreme grief or devastation, it is natural to want to accuse God of being the cause of our pain. As Christians, we do not need to fear God’s retribution for voicing our concerns. God’s feelings are not hurt when we voice our grief. Even when our grief looks like denial, depression, or anger, God allows us to lament authentically.
In 2012, I had a miscarriage. I have never experienced such heartache and devastation. For months I asked God, “Why?” My prayers were irrational and erratic and would likely injure the sensibilities of polite, Christian society. However, the book of Lamentations gives this intense and irrational grief a place within the Christian experience. We do not need to whitewash our prayers in the presence of the God who knows our hearts. While grief remains, we can be comforted by the fact we serve a God who allows us to express raw grief in his presence.
In the creation of this study, I consulted Interpretation: Lamentations by F. W. Dobbs-Allsopp.