Hopeful Lamentation

Note: The Book of Lamentations is a series of poems that, in severe detail, decry the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple by the Babylonian Empire in the early 6th century BCE. In the Hebrew Bible, the book bears the title ‘Ekah, literally “How,” being the first word of the first verse: How lonely sits the city that once was full of people.Lamentation (1860), Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld (1794-1872)

Though grave is Lamentations’ cry of suffering…

The thought of my affliction and my homelessness
is wormwood and gall!
My soul continually thinks of it
and is bowed down within me (Lamentations 3.19-20)

great, too, is its word of hope…

But this I call to mind, and, therefore, I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
His mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore, I will hope in him” (Lamentations 3.21-24)

Thus, Lamentations grants clarion voice to all who are beset by life’s trials in any place, at any time.

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Many there have been and are and will be
who have spent, who do and will spend the night watches
staring
(their hallowed eyes clouded
with ancient and e’er new shadows of grief,
witnessing, in warrantless misery, many, too many nights like this)
into the darkness
of their day’s end bleakness.

Their bellies distended;
their growling hungers, o’er time, silenced.
For, for so long, without the sustenance of kindness extended,
their cries, strangled, wane.

Their bodies broken, bloated by myriad afflictions.

Many wrought by human hands
filled with the glories of partisan intention
and of moral reason, empty.

Still, at every morn,
that new day
a sign of the first and fresh Spirit-breath of life,
they pray, “O Lord,” in hope of the truth of it,
“as so great is Thy faithfulness,
at sunrise, this sunrise, shine Thy light of Thy merciful Love,
Thy loving Mercy upon us.”
Do I, can I, will I, dare I
hear in the cry of these my sisters and brothers
a call, their call, God’s call unto me
to be
a helping heart, an opening hand of the steadfast love of the Lord?

I do. I can. I will. I dare.

 
Illustration: Lamentation (1860), Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld (1794-1872)

3 thoughts on “Hopeful Lamentation

  1. WOW!! I love this Paul because I love hope!! I have hope that all will be well, that God loves all of us!! I hear the cry of my brothers and sisters who are in need and I do open my hand and heart and try to help. One of the challenges I’ve had this year is that people I’ve helped have short memories and haven’t helped when I needed emotional support. It can be hard to continue to help and have hope when that happens… BUT I have come to believe (after some struggle) that God will continue to uphold me and love me regardless of what others do or don’t do. Soooo as you pointed out here, I DARE to keep going, and I can and I WILL!
    Great inspiration for me to look back on so I don’t forget!!
    Much love!

    Like

  2. Loretta, during our (Epiphany’s) class on prayer yesterday, the subject being thanksgiving, we talked at length about trusting in God, especially in moments of sorrow or disappointment, that God was in control and giving thanks that whatever good was to come that God would bring it to light. What you have written, particularly, in my view, in regard to other folk disappointing us, is in keeping with the sentiment and spirit of yesterday’s class (and, of course, with your responses to the questions, which I shared with the class!).

    Also, the closing verse of our closing hymn yesterday (The Hymnal 1982, #701, Jesus, all my gladness) also expressed the theme of our class and your writing (both in your responses to the A.C.T.S. of Prayer questions and to this blog post):
    Flee, dark clouds that lower, for my joy bestower, Jesus, enters in!
    Joy from tribulation, hope from desolation, they who love God win.
    Be it blame or scorn or shame, thou art with me in earth’s sadness, Jesus, all my gladness.

    Love

    Like

    1. Thank you so much PRA for sharing my responses with the class!!! I’m enjoying it even more than I knew I would!! Love those words to that hymn!! They are words to live by!!

      Much love!

      Like

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