Jeremiah gives us a bleak picture of God’s chosen “Lady,” Jerusalem, as she bears the consequences of her rebellion against God. “She weeps bitterly in the night, with tears on her cheeks; among all her lovers, she has none to comfort her; all her friends have dealt treacherously with her; they have become her enemies.” I like the way Wright begins his commentary on this passage. He says, “Perhaps it’s because I’m a man, but few things are more emotionally moving than a woman in tears, sobbing out some desperate pain or loss. Perhaps only the tears of a seriously injured or bereaved child are more unbearable. This chapter (of Lamentations) assaults the eyes and ears of our imagination with both a weeping woman and destitute children. The Poet presents the city of Jerusalem as a woman in the deepest depths of mourning and pain.”[1] Even though Lady Jerusalem has brought hardships on herself, there is still a sense of pity for her. She had placed her loyalties with those who only used her for their benefit.  She sought fulfillment and meaning in life by worshipping other gods while ignoring the one God who delivered her from Egypt. When she needed the help of the gods or her physical neighbors, they deserted her, leaving her to the mercy of the Babylonians, who killed her young or carried them off to slavery.

In many ways, we are like Israel, watching the destruction of our nation. The things that have made us great are vanishing before our eyes. Statues of America’s heroes are being replaced by modern interpretations of the past, followed by a rewriting of our history. The patterns of life that made America great are disappearing. The make-up of a traditional family and the roles of husbands and wives are changing radically. American influence around the world is eroding. The standard acceptance of the heterosexual norm and the associated assumptions are in doubt. Sexuality, medicine, education, justice, and just about everything else that has made America great are all in jeopardy. There is a sense of profound loss among us. Brueggemann observes, “There is a deep loss among us that gives way to deep anxiety that produces deep resentment and in many quarters brutality. The big losses, so public and seemingly cosmic, spin off into immediate, local losses in the neighborhood. The index of violence and fear issues in public rage.” There is senseless violence in our streets and gross disregard for the law as millions of illegal aliens invade our southwest while the government applauds or tolerates them. Our wealth and prosperity accumulated through our ancestors’ blood, sweat, and tears are being eaten away by inflation and taxation. So, we are left with a “kind of fearful hollowness at the center.”[2] If the direction of this trajectory is not changed, the statue of liberty will be the lady weeping bitterly in the night.

I know that the weeping of Lamentation’s Lady is a figure for the Nation of Israel, but sometimes I feel I’m the disobedient lover who has brought upon himself some catastrophe in life.  I have had a similar experience as Barry. He writes, “I saw myself as Jerusalem. I was her. I had walked away from God’s desire for my life, and I deserved destruction. Sometimes we must break before we can be rebuilt. Sometimes we must fall before we can rise to the greatness God has called us to. Are you Jerusalem? Call out to God like the prophet did. Tell God how you feel. Be honest with your mourning and your sadness. It may not make the fall easier, but it will surely make you more eager to accept the grace that God has offered. God wants you to experience His grace, including salvation in Christ. He wants you to live it.”[3]

[1] Wright, Christopher J. H. 2015. The Message of Lamentations: Honest to God. Edited by Alec Motyer and Derek Tidball. The Bible Speaks Today. England: Inter-Varsity Press.

[2] Brueggemann, Walter. 2004. Inscribing the Text: Sermons and Prayers of Walter Brueggemann. Edited by Anna Carter Florence. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press.

[3] Barry, John D., and Rebecca Kruyswijk. 2012. Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.