The following is a Scripture study on Lamentations 1:13-22. To receive maximum value from this study, it is highly recommended that you read this passage before reading the study.
In the second half of Lamentations 1, we see the theme of grief deepen. Jerusalem, pictured as a devastated widow, continues to lament the catastrophe that has befallen her.
Devastation and Lack of Comfort
This passage continues the theme of grief started in the first half of the chapter. By adding rich imagery of complete devastation, this half of the lament shows the completeness of Jerusalem’s destruction.
The author of Lamentations does not find comfort where expected. Instead, Jerusalem is shown reaching out to God for comfort only to be abandoned by him and given over to her foes. Jerusalem levels this accusation of abandonment against God in the midst of her intense grief.
Where Mesopotamian lament songs would offer the hope of coming restoration, the lament song in Lamentations does not offer any vision of hope or restoration. The grief felt by the people is embraced fully. While some may perceive the lack of hope in this passage to be evidence of Jerusalem’s faithlessness, the themes of hope in Lamentation are there. Devastated Jerusalem continues groaning, refusing to be silenced. As the stanzas of the lament march on, her groaning is evidence of her will to continue as well.
Confronting God with Jerusalem’s Pain
You cannot read these verses without seeing the myriad of accusations leveled against God. Jerusalem, in her lament, says that he sent fire (v. 13), made her desolate (v. 13), has sapped her strength (v. 14), summoned an army against her (v. 15), and many other things. In the aftermath of destruction, Jerusalem cries out to God asking why he has allowed all of these things to happen. Her accusations act to confront God for the pain experienced by Jerusalem.
The word translated “faint” at the end of verse 13 means “physical infirmity,” but has been used in Scripture to reference to menstruation, general sickness, and the weariness that accompanies sorrow and distress.
“Suffering is always personal and always harmful, and the scars that it leaves are never completely erasable. Jerusalem, then, as she haunts our memories in the poem’s aftermath, both compels our desire for survival and acts as a disturbing memorial to the reality of human suffering in this world, and the need to combat such suffering wherever it occurs.” -F. W. Dobbs-Allsopp
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.
Leave A Comment