Pain and loss

Today’s readings: Lamentations 1:1-2:22, Philemon 1:1-25, Psalm 101:1-8, Proverbs 26:20

As I began reading Lamentations, I was struck with the phrase “beautiful Jerusalem” simply because I did not remember reading that phrase in Lamentations before. I looked at other translations and found that they say “Daughter Zion” (NIV) or “daughter of Zion (ESV). I found that the use of “beautiful Jerusalem” helped me to hear the pain in Jeremiah’s voice much better.

All the majesty of beautiful Jerusalem
    has been stripped away.
Her princes are like starving deer
    searching for pasture.
They are too weak to run
    from the pursuing enemy.

In the midst of her sadness and wandering,
    Jerusalem remembers her ancient splendor.
But now she has fallen to her enemy,
    and there is no one to help her.
Her enemy struck her down
    and laughed as she fell.

I know that I avoid pain in my life. I remember a song that was popular when I was in high school, “I haven’t got time for the pain” sung by Carly Simon. When I read Lamentations, I realize that Jeremiah took time for the pain. In fact he took so much time that he wrote it out for all of us to read. And he was willing to write hard truths about why this had happened. There is no mistaking how this came about.

Jerusalem has sinned greatly,
    so she has been tossed away like a filthy rag.
All who once honored her now despise her,
    for they have seen her stripped naked and humiliated.
All she can do is groan
    and hide her face.

She defiled herself with immorality
    and gave no thought to her future.
Now she lies in the gutter
    with no one to lift her out.
Lord, see my misery,” she cries.
    “The enemy has triumphed.”

10 The enemy has plundered her completely,
    taking every precious thing she owns.
She has seen foreigners violate her sacred Temple,
    the place the Lord had forbidden them to enter.

I have long known of the need for repentance – turning away from sin once it becomes clear to me. If I follow Jeremiah’s example, then I also need to take time to mourn for my losses and to feel their pain deeply before I can come to true healing.

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