The Humility of Prayer: Lamentations

Jeremiah prophesied and experienced the exile and the captivity of the Jews to Babylon in 586 B.C.  It lasted for seventy years: Jeremiah 29:10.  If the Exodus was a story of deliverance and the exuberance of salvation, the Exile was a story of devastation and the suffering of judgment.  There was a loss of respect for human worth and for the law of God, as children were cannibalized and priests were murdered.

Suffering is a common element in the human condition.  Suffering is exponentially more devastating when it is the result of our own deliberate disobedience.  In Lamentations, Jeremiah provides us with the form and the vocabulary for dealing with the consequences of our sin.  Each of the five chapters is in the form of a poetic lament written in acrostic manner in accordance with the Hebrew alphabet.  Each poem has twenty two verses, except the third which has sixty-six verses.  Each chapter establishes the just wrath of God, but strategically placed in the center of the book: 3:21-26, we are assured that God is still merciful and faithful.  Only after reading verse 10 can we frame the reality of Jeremiah 29:11!