How shall I console you? To what shall I liken you, O daughter of Jerusalem? What shall I compare with you, that I may comfort you, O virgin daughter of Zion? For your ruin is spread wide as the sea; Who can heal you? (Lamentations 2:13)
You have probably never met Monroe. He was a nice old guy who attended a church I pastored years ago. He washed his hands continually. One might think he was a germaphobe. Perhaps he was just cautious. Disease is easily spread and some of those germs are lethal. Scientists predict it is only a matter of time until we have a pandemic, as strains of viruses are becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics. Serious as that is, I am more concerned about a disease that affects the soul. It is the sorrowful sickness of sin—highly contagious and extremely dangerous. Jeremiah saw it spread through an entire nation with devastating effect. The weeping prophet mourns the tragedy that could have been prevented.
Jeremiah points first to THE SOURCE (Lam.1:2) Yahweh was to be the exclusive recipient of Judah’s affections. Yet, they had become spiritual adulterers, giving their hearts to idols. To be guilty once of infidelity would be serious, yet their scandalous behavior was persistent and plural—note the word, “lovers.” Are we guilty?
The prophet goes on to describe THE SYMPTOMS (Lam.1:1-16). When you are sick and go to the doctor, one of the first things he does is find out the symptoms.
• EMPTINESS (1:1). A city once full of life was now a ghost town. Do you recall a time when you were full of joy, faith, and the Spirit? Now, there is emptiness.
• LONELINESS (1:2). There was none to comfort them. Sin puts us out of fellowship with God. Maybe there was a time when you felt God so near, but now He seems a million light years away.
• RESTLESSNESS (1:3). Augustine said, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you." Isaiah pictures the wicked as a restless sea.
• BITTERNESS (1:4). The Word of God that used to taste so sweet, now has become bitter to swallow. Such bitter believers have been pickled in the vinegar of disobedience.
• WEAKNESS (1:5-7). Instead of being victorious over evil, they had been vanquished by it. Sin short-circuits our spiritual power and we dwell in defeat.
There is more, but time would fail us to examine all the symptoms listed here. I think you get the idea.
Let us move on to THE SOLUTION (Lam.3:40-41). What we need most is a cure! The prescription is given by the Great Physician—repentance! Healing comes when we turn back to the God we have turned our back upon! The church corporately and the church member individually needs to seek the Lord (“let us” is twice used to convey this). Let us—each one of us—conduct a spiritual examination with a view of taking our medicine—whatever God should diagnose. Let us—every one of us together plead with God for mercy! Mercy is available. In the midst of a book about the punishment of unfaithfulness in God’s people, there is also the promise of faithfulness in God Himself (see 3:22-33).