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  • Wayne Chasney

How Lonely Sits the City

Weekly Meditation

How lonely sits the city that once was full of people!

How like a widow she has become, she that was great among the nations!

She that was a princess among the provinces has become a vassal. (Lamentations 1:1)

How lonely sits the city.

Sometimes life can be a challenge. Loved ones are lost. Health issues arise. Neighbor fights with neighbor and the world seems filled with chaos.

How lonely sits the city, indeed!

The book of Lamentations is an expression of deeply felt grief over the destruction of Jerusalem and the fall of Judah to Babylon. Through a series of five poems, the book pours out the grief of a people for whom life has become a challenge, whether by being taken into exile in Babylon or left to pick up the pieces amidst the chaos and destruction.

One thing you will note as you read these laments is that the writer offers few words of hope which you will often find in Jewish writing. There are verses here and there that call on God to act on behalf of the people and express trust in God's steadfast love, but overall, the tone is melancholy. The wounds are still too fresh, the loss still too painful, the hurt still too real. That's probably why most people have never heard of this little book buried between the prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel.

How lonely sits the city.

If there is little word of hope within these verses, what can we take from this book of Lamentations other than to appreciate the beautiful poetry and marvel at the raw emotions expressed?

Simply this, I think: in spite of the loss, despair, and hopelessness the unknown writer expresses, they still have the confidence - even audacity - to address those feelings to God. Whoever wrote these words of lament was still willing to believe that God was listening and would hear them. They may not have known what the future would hold, but they trusted that future would hold God and ultimately God holds the future.

To cry out to God, whether in lament, or anger, or despair, is to acknowledge that even in life's most challenging times, God is still there, even in our doubt. Yes, the city may be lonely, but the city and her inhabitants are not alone.

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