15 All who pass your way
    clap their hands at you;
they scoff and shake their heads
    at Daughter Jerusalem:
“Is this the city that was called
    the perfection of beauty,
    the joy of the whole earth?”

16 All your enemies open their mouths
    wide against you;
they scoff and gnash their teeth
    and say, “We have swallowed her up.
This is the day we have waited for;
    we have lived to see it.”

17 The Lord has done what he planned;
    he has fulfilled his word,
    which he decreed long ago.
He has overthrown you without pity,
    he has let the enemy gloat over you,
    he has exalted the horn of your foes.

18 The hearts of the people
    cry out to the Lord.
You walls of Daughter Zion,
    let your tears flow like a river
    day and night;
give yourself no relief,
    your eyes no rest.

19 Arise, cry out in the night,
    as the watches of the night begin;
pour out your heart like water
    in the presence of the Lord.
Lift up your hands to him
    for the lives of your children,
who faint from hunger
    at every street corner.

20 “Look, Lord, and consider:
    Whom have you ever treated like this?
Should women eat their offspring,
    the children they have cared for?
Should priest and prophet be killed
    in the sanctuary of the Lord?

21 “Young and old lie together
    in the dust of the streets;
my young men and young women
    have fallen by the sword.
You have slain them in the day of your anger;
    you have slaughtered them without pity.

22 “As you summon to a feast day,
    so you summoned against me terrors on every side.
In the day of the Lord’s anger
    no one escaped or survived;
those I cared for and reared
    my enemy has destroyed.”

Streams of tears flow from my eyes,
    for your law is not obeyed.
Psalm 119:136 (see also Lam.2:11).

This passage challenges me with a number of pressing questions:

  • What do I really care about?
  • What moves me?
  • What moves me to tears?
  • What might keep me up at night (or get me up) in order to pray about it?

Jeremiah found himself in the midst of terrible suffering. It was needless. If only the people had turned back to God, it would not have happened. But it had, and the prophet could not be passive. But even in that situation he believed prayer could make a difference.

Warren Wiersbe says, ‘Sin is costly, God must punish sin, but God’s mercy never fails: these are the key lessons of Lamentations…”

He writes about Jeremiah, ‘His heart was broken, and his grief reveals the broken heart of God. God had to chasten His people, and it grieved Him to do it.’

PRAYER: Soften my heart, Lord, soften my heart. From all indifference set me apart.