When was the last time you heard a sermon on Lamentations? We barely even know what this book is about, let alone have we studied it in depth at all. We are far more interested in books that teach short, “sound-byte” lessons or encourage us. We want to do something because of what we read, or learn something new, or be able to translate it into a to-do list. This is our culture and we are products of it.
But this book of Lamentations is just that, laments about the fall of God’s people. Through poetry, we get this wonderful lament, a cry of mourning for our sinfulness that leads to such destruction.
Another reason we don’t like this book is it attributes Israel’s pain to God, claiming all of their woes to be God’s doing. And given their worldview, this is no surprise. They believed that God was sovereign in all things, so anything that happened had to be God’s doing or they were denying God’s control over the world. While they leaned away from scientific inquiry for the sake of theology, we lean too far the other way. And so we have a hard time understanding how anyone could think a loving God might cause such suffering.
And so, maybe there is something we can learn from this book after all, if we’ll allow ourselves to. God is truly sovereign and in control of the activities of this world. Is it any more wrong to deny that for the sake of our scientific logic about God’s will and free will? Maybe we can learn through our reading of Lamentations to pay a bit more heed to God’s sovereignty.