These are just some brief thoughts about how to read and use the often-neglected book of Lamentations with pastoral profit.
How valuable this book is - in this world of tears it is a veritable treasure trove: there is no other place in Scripture where individuals or communities are taught more clearly, fully, or fittingly (neologism), how to grieve with godly, dignified, hearty, restraint. By nature and practice we tend to get grief wrong - here Jeremiah, by the Spirit, gives us words to weep in-line with tears of Christ.
1. National Crisis.
This provides a vehicle for any Christian nation to lament its calamity, state, & crises, or to bewail its woes under the hand of God, when the nation has corrupted its ways and reneagued on its vows. Could this be more pertinent or opportune?
2. Ecclesiastical Decline.
When the Church in the West lies in ruins, these woe-filled words give the people of God a vehicle to express their grief and sorrow at the present demise of the church, and then, to follow that up, by seeking the faithful Covenant God with renewed hope.
3. Personal Discipline.
When any sinner is chastened for their sins, this book is a suitable vehicle to express their shock and shame, to confess their sins through the suffering Mediator Jesus, and to pray for a restored relationship with the LORD.
4. Personal Suffering.
When the people of God suffer for the sake of the Word of truth - which they speak into a situation where they are smeared with lies or struck for Christ - then this is a suitable vehicle to roll out the scroll of their tears and trauma before the LORD.
5. Seeking Revival.
There are prayers in Lamentations which can be of much use for believers who are troubled about the state of things when the enemy pulls down truth - the longing to see the Gospel advanced, and the honor of God restored, finds eloquent, bereft expression here.
6. Gospel Preaching.
There are depths of sorrows in the echo-chamber-heart of the prophet which express the unspotted emotions of Christ as he stood and poured out his grief at the previsioned prospect of Jerusalem, soon to be brutalized by Rome.
7. Crucifixion Exile.
It was a Calvary where the depths of the pain and trauma of exile were poured out on Christ for us: he bore the curse, God’s wrath fell on Him - many of the verses and prayers of Jeremiah find explicit fulfilment in the Passion of our Lord.
8. Seeking Blessing.
Since Jesus himself said “blessed are those that mourn for they shall be comforted”, Lamentations expresses the grief the godly "naturally" feel when the cause of the Kingdom of God is trampled under foot under any circumstance.”
Conclusion with Confession.
Confess how little we engage in godly lamentation; pray that God would use this means of grace to mourn with Jesus' own Spirit-filled, tearful, heart.
Blessed are those that mourn - the LORD has comforted Zion.