Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord . Let us lift up our hearts and our hands to God in heaven, and say: “We have sinned and rebelled and you have not forgiven. “You have covered yourself with anger and pursued us; you have slain without pity. You have covered yourself with a cloud so that no prayer can get through. You have made us scum and refuse among the nations. “All our enemies have opened their mouths wide against us. We have suffered terror and pitfalls, ruin and destruction.” Streams of tears flow from my eyes because my people are destroyed. My eyes will flow unceasingly, without relief, until the Lord looks down from heaven and sees. What I see brings grief to my soul because of all the women of my city. – Lamentations 3:40-51
In this passage the people seem to get the point of all the suffering and stress that God is allowing them to experience – “let us return to the Lord”. The whole point of God allowing the consequences of their choices is not to punish them, but rather to prepare them for a journey back to Him. There is a sense here that the people feel cutoff from God and unable to even plead their case. They feel as if God has not only abandoned them but He is obscured behind a cloud, unable to hear their prayers.
This has to be a very hopeless place for these people. There is nothing like feeling like your only hope is lost. We have the benefit of knowing that the in the end God wins, and all those who choose to follow Him will find Him. The depth of their despair is somewhat amazing…”You have made us scum and refuse among the nations.” Now I confess I have never felt like scum or refuse, but if cannot feel good. It seems they had a profound sense of their own worthlessness.
The people of Israel and Judah definitely had trouble remembering where, or from Whom, they should derive their sense of self-worth. They are not alone in this. One of the most profound aspects of following Christ for me is the sense of worth that Jesus has for me. No matter how much garbage and “scum” I bring to the table through my actions and choices. God believes in us even when we do not believe in ourselves. There is a great peace and stillness in this simple truth.
The last part of the passage provides some hope the people will at some point “get it” — “My eyes will flow unceasingly, without relief, until the Lord looks down from heaven and sees.” There is a sense that God will show up at some future time, which in fact He will in a very dramatic and unexpected way. The scandalous and reassuring message of the Gospel is that God sees us even when we feel like He has hidden Himself behind a cloud. Not only does He see us but He has come to rescue us in the form of Person named Jesus. We have but to accept His presence and He is there with us.
Prayer: God thank You for seeing us and coming to be with even when we feel as if You are hidden behind clouds.