In various kinds of media, we are provided daily updates on armed conflicts throughout the world: Congo, Egypt, Libya, Nigeria, Somalia, Sudan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Chad, Ukraine. On television, we see dead children. We see weeping mothers. Unless we have become immune to it all, we weep with them.
The word lamentation means a passionate expression of grief. Synonyms are wailing, crying, weeping, sobbing, moaning. That’s what we see on television every day.
When we feel helpless to rescue the people in war-torn countries, especially the children, we can still pray. Perhaps a good foundation for our prayers is the book of Lamentations in the Bible. This book contains the lamentations of the Israelites over the destruction of Jerusalem. It’s described as being like the lamentations of a widow. The book of Lamentations is filled with poems of darkness, prayers of the hopeless. To try to stay in touch with the grief of those who live in distant fear today and not become immune to their suffering, reading portions of the book of Lamentations may be a good practice.
“The roads to Zion mourn…All her gateways are desolate, her priests groan, her young women grieve, and she is in bitter anguish…All her people groan as they search for bread; they barter their treasures for food to keep themselves alive…Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by? Look around and see. Is any suffering like my suffering that was inflicted on me…This is why I weep and my eyes overflow with tears. No one is near to comfort me, no one to restore my spirit. My children are destitute because the enemy has prevailed…People have heard my groaning, but there is no one to comfort me…My groans are many and my heart is faint.” (Lamentations 1, NIV)
Now, let’s pray.