Prepare to Listen. Light a candle of hope for the world. Honestly name what you’re thinking and feeling now. Be still with them and then pray for eyes to see and ears to hear God’s Word for today.
Prayerfully Read Lamentations 1:11-13
11 All her people groan as they search for bread;
they trade their treasures for food to revive their strength.
Look, O LORD, and see how worthless I have become.
12 Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?
Look and see if there is any sorrow like my sorrow, which was brought upon me,
which the LORD inflicted on the day of his fierce anger.
13 From on high he sent fire; it went deep into my bones;
he spread a net for my feet; he turned me back;
he has left me stunned, faint all day long.
In poetic language, which at times is graphic, the author expresses truths about himself, and not about God. He describes his feelings and thoughts about God and life in the midst of terrible loss. The author is grieving, and we mourn with him. We grieve for those we hear about who are in deprived circumstances and who are groaning as they search for bread, giving up their treasures for food. We mourn for those who feel worthless, stunned and faint all day long.
Our news medias tell stories and show pictures of parents around the world in lockdown, groaning because they have no work and no money to buy food for their starving children. The treasures they once had have long since been traded for food and now they have nothing. In the pictures they look stunned and faint. We can imagine they feel, as did this ancient poet, as if God has inflicted sorrow in the day of his fierce anger. Perhaps they feel as though God has ‘turned [them] back; he has left [them] stunned, faint all day long.’ That they feel worthless is hardly surprising.
Some of us are more privileged; we’re not groaning for food; we’re not yet feeling worthless. And then we hear Jeremiah’s rebuke: ‘Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?’ Is that a rebuke for us, the privileged few? Sometimes we feel helpless and, afraid to look at more suffering, we ‘pass by’ as we try to forget. Can we stop and hear the cry of those in pain: ‘Look and see if there is any sorrow like my sorrow, which was brought upon me, which the LORD inflicted on the day of his fierce anger’ and grieve with them? Can we stand in solidarity, in oneness with those who suffer as we offer what we can, even if we can only offer our thoughts and prayers today? If we do and when we wait quietly, we will see the salvation of the Lord, perhaps as God uses us to help those who are feeling worthless today.
Perhaps today you’re one of those who feels more hope-filled than what is expressed in this lament. Maybe you don’t feel stunned and faint all day long, but plenty of people do. Can you mourn with them, sorrow with them, even as you pray for and instead of them? If so, sit in silence and bring their suffering into the presence of Jesus.
Respond to Jesus
Lord Jesus, I am grateful for what I have, for my privileged position. But I know I’m in the minority today and so I mourn with those who groan as they search for food for their hungry children. I ask you to be present with those who feel like you have left them stunned, faint all day and restore their dignity and wholeness. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer. Amen.