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A Lament

"'For these things I weep; my eyes flow with tears; for a comforter is far from me, one to revive my spirit; my children are desolate, for the enemy has prevailed'" (Lamentations 1:16).

The book of Lamentations is anonymous, but it was likely written by the prophet Jeremiah. In the book that bears his name, we get many examples of his penchant for melancholy. He earned his nickname, "The Weeping Prophet," from the many tears he shed over the sins of his people, and Lamentations brings even greater weight to that title.

The word "lament" isn't a common one today. A simple definition is that it's an honest expression of grief or sorrow. Many of the Psalms are classified as laments, and Lamentations is a long, poetic cry of a distraught man weeping over his fallen city.

It's easy enough to lament over ourselves. Life is hard; we're all well aware of that. When things go wrong, it's natural to be upset about it. There's nothing wrong with weeping over our own suffering; in fact, the Bible encourages us to do so and to bring our hurts to God.

But what about over other people? Do the hardships of others drive us to tears? Do we grieve when we see others struggling? Do we care enough about them to bring their troubles before God with as much emotion as if they were our own?

Lamentations is a striking book because of its focus. The author had much to weep about in his own life; if Jeremiah was in fact the author, he had plenty of troubles of his own! But what grieved him more than anything was seeing his beloved people given over to death. He hated seeing them hauled away captive to a land far from their own. He loathed walking through the crumbled ruins of houses that would never again hear the laughter of a family.

He mourned for what others had lost.

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