Read Lamentations 1:1-2
1 Jerusalem, once so full of people,
is now deserted.
She who was once great among the nations
now sits alone like a widow.
Once the queen of all the earth,
she is now a slave.
2 She sobs through the night;
tears stream down her cheeks.
Among all her lovers,
there is no one left to comfort her.
All her friends have betrayed her
and become her enemies. (NLT)
We may have lost the practice of lament. To weep for the brokenness of our own world and our own contribution to it. Church gatherings can become places where we cover up our deeper emotions in order to put on a happy face. We push aside the sadness in order to express our gladness and we call it ‘praise’.
The Bible, as usual, offers us a sobering corrective. The most common category of Psalm is the Psalm of lament. And we have an entire book of the Bible devoted to lament, from which our passage for today is taken. The Bible does not airbrush out the brokenness. In this case, the people had brought catastrophe on themselves. No use smothering it with pious praise.
If there is no place for lament in our faith communities, then we are losing authenticity. Because it is right and proper to lament: neither we nor the world are as we ought to be. Of course we don’t immerse ourselves in misery and neglect the other great realities of faith and life. Lament is not pessimism or gloom. It is a natural response to a world gone wrong.
What saves it from despair is that it occurs within a wider and greater narrative story. That of God at work, bringing his wayward people back to himself forever. We weep tears in the light of the fact that one day every tear will be wiped away.