When is the last time you heard or said the word lament? Perhaps you were at a funeral or memorial service and someone said, “the widow deeply laments the loss of her husband.” It is possible that someone who is grieving the loss of a job and the income that they need to sustain their family would use the word to describe the feeling of sorrow and disappointment they are experiencing. It has been defined as meaning “something horrific has happened or is happening in someone’s life or in their environment which moves the person deep within their soul and so it is outwardly expressed in such a way that is both demonstrative and visible.”
There was a prophet, named Jeremiah, who had prophesied for over 40 years, warning the Israelites that if they did not repent of their idolatry and evil ways that judgment would surely come. When God spoke to Jeremiah as a young man, he was hesitant to believe that God could really use him, but he listened and obeyed. His knowledge of who God is and what His covenant with the Israelites meant moved him very deeply. As he watched his people choose disobedience, he was full of lament. He knew that judgment and exile would surely be the price that they would pay. After years of faithful obedience, he did witness the destruction of both the walls and the temple in Jerusalem and the deportation of many people to Babylon. His book of Lamentations depicted clearly not only his broken heart for the sinfulness of his people, but also the hope that God would not forsake His people forever. The words and courage which the Lord promised to give him never failed to come at just the right time.
Do you believe that the warnings of Jeremiah still have meaning for you and me today? Why or why not?