Weeping Over What Once Was

Weeping Over the City - Mosul, Iraq

A sermon idea based on Lamentations 1:1-6.

Lamentations 1:1-6 NRSV

[1] 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. [2] She weeps bitterly in the night, with tears on her cheeks; among all her lovers she has no one to comfort her; all her friends have dealt treacherously with her, they have become her enemies. [3] Judah has gone into exile with suffering and hard servitude; she lives now among the nations, and finds no resting place; her pursuers have all overtaken her in the midst of her distress. [4] The roads to Zion mourn, for no one comes to the festivals; all her gates are desolate, her priests groan; her young girls grieve, and her lot is bitter. [5] Her foes have become the masters, her enemies prosper, because the LORD has made her suffer for the multitude of her transgressions; her children have gone away, captives before the foe. [6] From daughter Zion has departed all her majesty. Her princes have become like stags that find no pasture; they fled without strength before the pursuer.

Angle

The relevant topic I would be addressing, based on this text…

It’s perfectly okay to weep over what once was, over the precious things we may have lost, especially when it reminds us of the timeless goodness of God who is always ready to show his love and grace in fresh ways.

Anchor

Information about the text that matters to the message…

It’s okay. Really. When your heart has been broken over losses of whatever seemed precious to you before, some people will inevitably tell you to move on, but that’s partly the result of our “move on” culture where we are taught to tuck our emotions away and hide them.

But there is an entire book of the Bible (Lamentations) dedicated to the idea of weeping over what once was. The book is attributed to Jeremiah, who had the unique calling and assignment of sharing words from God with people who were under judgment. They would watch their precious city fall apart and fall into the hands of an invading army.

This book is written in memorial, so to speak, of what a great city Jerusalem once was – not in the physical sense as much as in the cultural sense. Jerusalem had become the center of worship for the people of God.

The author reflects on those great days, but he also levels with the people about the current reality. Rather than ignoring the situation, the weeping prophet examines the situation and embraces the way things are.

This is good for us. When we don’t acknowledge our losses, when we ignore the current conditions around us, we miss out on the lessons we really need to learn.

This passage can’t really stand alone and make total sense. It needs to be connected to the middle of chapter three in which the prophet writes:

Lamentations 3:22-33 NRSV

[22] The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; [23] they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. [24] “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” [25] The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul that seeks him. [26] It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD. [27] It is good for one to bear the yoke in youth, [28] to sit alone in silence when the Lord has imposed it, [29] to put one’s mouth to the dust (there may yet be hope), [30] to give one’s cheek to the smiter, and be filled with insults. [31] For the Lord will not reject forever. [32] Although he causes grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; [33] for he does not willingly afflict or grieve anyone.

In other words, our suffering is temporary. Our hardships are designed to remind us of how we’ve experienced God’s goodness in the past and to help us hang onto hope that we will experience God’s goodness again because God never, ever ceases to be a good God.

Application

The big call-to-action in the message…

Look back and grieve what you may believe to be lost. Look around for any lessons you need to hear and apply. And look ahead with hope because God never ceases to be good, gracious, and kind.

 

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About the Cover Art: Brother and Sister Walk in War-torn Mosul, Iraq, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN.

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