We have to pay for water to drink, and even firewood is expensive. Those who pursue us are at our heels; we are exhausted but are given no rest. We submitted to Egypt and Assyria to get enough food to survive. Our ancestors sinned, but they have died—and we are suffering the punishment they deserved! Slaves have now become our masters; there is no one left to rescue us. We hunt for food at the risk of our lives, for violence rules the countryside.
The famine has blackened our skin as though baked in an oven. Our enemies rape the women in Jerusalem and the young girls in all the towns of Judah. Our princes are being hanged by their thumbs, and our elders are treated with contempt. Young men are led away to work at millstones, and boys stagger under heavy loads of wood. The elders no longer sit in the city gates; the young men no longer dance and sing. Joy has left our hearts; our dancing has turned to mourning. The garlands have fallen from our heads. Weep for us because we have sinned.
Our hearts are sick and weary, and our eyes grow dim with tears. For Jerusalem is empty and desolate, a place haunted by jackals. But Lord, you remain the same forever! Your throne continues from generation to generation. Why do you continue to forget us? Why have you abandoned us for so long? Restore us, O Lord, and bring us back to you again! Give us back the joys we once had! Or have you utterly rejected us? Are you angry with us still? (Lamentations 5:4-22)
A high calling flouted by low living results in deep suffering. Lamentations gives us a portrait of the bitter suffering the people of Jerusalem experienced when sin caught up with them and God turned his back on them. Every material goal they had lived for collapsed. Here Jeremiah prayed for mercy for his people. At the end of his prayer he wondered, “Have you utterly rejected us? Are you angry with us still?” (5:22). But God would not stay angry with them forever, as Micah 7:18 explains, “You will not stay angry with your people forever, because you delight in showing unfailing love.” Although God turned away from them because of their sin, he did not abandon them—and this was their great hope. Despite their sinful past, God would restore them if they returned to him.
Are you grieving a loss or worried about a devastating circumstance? Turn to God in prayer. He will never reject you. He can handle your biggest worries and your deepest grief.