Lamentations 2:10-18 (NRSV)
My eyes are spent with weeping;
my stomach churns;
my bile is poured out on the ground
because of the destruction of my people,
because infants and babes faint
in the streets of the city.
They cry to their mothers,
“Where is bread and wine?”
as they faint like the wounded
in the streets of the city,
as their life is poured out
on their mothers’ bosom.
I knew that there were Psalms of Lamentation, but I have to make the sad confession that I did not know there was a Book of Lamentations. These five poetic chapters of grief are somehow acknowledging something real and fearful and powerful. It is unthinkable for a loving and merciful God to destroy and punish; to allow destruction. And yet the reality is that there were and still are places where people suffer this deeply. If we are not suffering are we good? If we are suffering did we sin? If we are suffering, was it not us but our community that sinned? How do you forebear in a suffering world? I don’t think I need to document the suffering of so many in our present world. Nor is it necessary to say that not suffering when a neighbor is suffering is not the same as joy or blessing or shalom.
In my heart I feel that world-sorrow can only be healed by God. And indeed God sent His son, Jesus, to provide us with “bread and wine.” On Sundays, we can take the bread and wine with the amazing joy as described in Psalm 126, “We were like those who dream/then our mouth was filled with laughter,/and our tongue with shouts of joy,” even in the midst of suffering. We can cling to this joy on Monday morning.
That special gift; when Jesus gave the bread and wine directly, did anyone in that upper room recall Lamentations/Psalm 126 and wonder? Did they wonder if that small meal full of love and betrayal was the start of something blessed and healing for all?
Lord, we cry to you
We life our hearts
We pour our tears out in sorrow
And weep in the night for fear.
Will our children suffer?
Will wild animals suffer?
Will our visionaries see true things again?
Will our daughters know nothing but ruin?
Bless us, Lord, for we know your mercy
Is as wide as the ocean
As limitless as the lights shining in the dome of the sky.
Bless us, Lord, for you are good and true
And your healing is ever possible.
Send relief Lord to all peoples
So all peoples may
Shout with joy and delight in you.