Lamentations: The “I can’t even” of the Bible

I have to confess something.  Sometimes I get angry.  The pit of my stomach boils and turns hard.  Ministry has brought me face first into cases abuse and neglect of children, and I can’t even.  

This year at children’s camp I was in the 4th grade cabin, and I had a few girls who were recovering from long-term abuse.  The fear in their eyes was fierce.  We talked about resting in the fortress of the Most High God, and I knew they wanted to, but it is hard for them to trust a solution so simple.  God, I pray they can hand their fragile trust to you.

I think about the children I saw in Ethiopia, not the ones wrapped up and riding on their loving momma’s backs, but the ones in an institution because their momma knew she couldn’t care for them.  The ones so hungry for love and attention, but have to wait their turn to be held, wait their turn to be fed.  Some of them have given up on even wanting to be touched.

I get angry.  I wonder if God is really watching.  I wonder why children have to suffer.

I wonder if there is even anything that can be done to fight back the evils of this world from harming precious children.  I wonder if God has to pick and choose which ones get rescued away from abusers and which ones continue to suffer.  I wonder if God is wondering if his church cares about these children.  I wonder if more people were mad, would there be less suffering?

I get angry at the American church.  Can they open their eyes to the suffering going on around them, around the world?  Can they spend less time selfishly and more time fighting for justice and loving the lowly children?

I get angry at myself.  Why can’t I just trust God and be optimistic?  Why can’t I make more time to pray for the children I know need prayer, need miracles, need intervention, need the protection of the Most High?

But angry people don’t want to talk to God, they want vengeance.  I want vengeance.  I want abusers to suffer, the greedy to do without.  But even more than vengeance, I want the children in human arms, with love, food, necessities, and security.

Should I be ok with God being their only over-seer when they physically need so much?  When their little brains are being damaged from lack of touch and lack of food?  How can I be ok with this?

I really want to not be angry.

The Holy Spirit reminds me of what a horrible god I would make.  I really have no business wanting answers.

Then I meet adult who were those suffering children, and guess what, they are not angry.

I meet those who have suffered serious abuse, kidnappings, beatings, real persecution, and they say everything was God’s plan.

That defies logic.  The love and forgiveness of Christ defies understanding.

They are not mad and I am.  I might have a problem.

I opened my Bible up to the prophets, they will usually be mad with me.  They are expressing God’s wrath and preaching Justice.  It didn’t make me feel any better.

I keep flipping, and I end up in Laminations.  I have to tell you that I’ve never understood Lamentations.  I did get why God included it.

I get it now.

Reading those word, I felt as if I wrote them.  Seeing these ugly things in the world, it is nothing new.  Evil existed the moment hearts turned from God.  I felt the Holy Spirit reminding me, God knows, God has always known, God understands the hurt and anger and the lamenting you have in your heart for these babies.

My eyes are spent with weeping;

    my stomach churns;

my bile is poured out to the ground

    because of the destruction of the daughter of my people,

because infants and babies faint

    in the streets of the city.
They cry to their mothers,
“Where is bread and wine?”

as they faint like a wounded man

    in the streets of the city,

as their life is poured out

    on their mothers’ bosom.
— Lamentations 2:11-12 ESV

How does it the Lamenting end?  With this cry for restoration.

Restore us to yourself, O Lord, that we may be restored!
— Lamentations 5:21a ESV

That is my prayer.  Restore yourself to me, O Lord.  I don’t want anger.  I want peace that passes understanding.  I don’t need answers.  I want faith that makes me well.  I want righteousness that you graciously share.

God, help me to trust you.

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, ‘My refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.’
— Psalm 91:1-2 ESV
Lamentations: The Blues music of the Bible
God, we need a change.  I pray Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.