Shoulders to Cry On

In every nation’s history there are great disasters. Turbulent times amplify feelings of insecurity and vulnerability on a grand scale. calamities threaten the comfort of familiarities. catastrophes destabilize civilized societies.

Such were the conditions in Judah and Benjamin when Jeremiah wrote the book of Lamentations. However, its tone and tears can also be seen as a commentary on much of Jewish history.

Israel in the Diaspora has experienced the sword, famine, wanderings, and reproach, just as in Jeremiah’s day. Some of these calamities have occurred in the month of Av (July or August), which is why, on the ninth of Av, the book of Lamentations is read in synagogues around the world.

Jerusalem’s destruction shook Jeremiah’s nation to its core. September 11, 2001, shook America’s. It caused us to doubt our own self-confidence. It removed our sense of security. It displayed our vulnerability. Nevertheless, Lamen -tations reminds true believers that no matter what disasters may come into our lives, God has promised not to forsake His people, whether they be Israel or the church (1 Sam. 12:22; Heb. 13:5).

The book of Lamentations also demonstrates that in times of great pain and distress, it is permissible and human to weep. It is legitimate to pour out our hearts to God. When Jeremiah was shut up in the court of the prison, the Lord told him, “Call to me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know” (Jer. 33:3).

The apostle Peter tells us to cast “all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Pet. 5:7).

God’s shoulders are broad enough to cry on. As long as we keep the faith, it is even permissible to ask God, “Why?” Job and Jeremiah did. So did Jesus (Mt. 27:46).

And like Jeremiah, if we, too, perceive that perhaps some of our personal or national disasters are the consequences of sin, we should repent and ask God to bring us back to Him. “For godly sorrow produces repentance…but the sorrow of the world produces death” (2 Cor. 7:10).

True restoration is found only in the Lord, not in the pleasant circumstances of life. For “the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever” (1 Jn. 2:17).

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