It’s tough to talk about grief and sorrow. It doesn’t come naturally for most of us. But I wanted to take a minute to share a few of the lines here in chapter 2 of Lamentations. In my mind, it perfectly describes the physical state of suffering:
The elders of Daughter Zion sit silent on the ground. They throw dust on their heads, dress in rough penitential burlap-- the young virgins of Jerusalem, their faces creased with dirt. My eyes are blind with tears, my stomach in a knot. My insides have turned to jelly over my people's fate. Babies and children are fainting all over the place.
Honestly, I can’t say I’ve ever felt quite that bad. I had COVID about a month ago, and for two days, I couldn’t get out of bed, felt the 103F fever and the aches all over. I had the follow-up rash for a week and itched like the dickens. Taste and smell are still hit and miss. But it was just me, my suffering, my sickness, my angst. And I know I didn’t have it as bad as some. Some have died from it, others have been in the hospital for weeks, and still others have barely shown symptoms. It’s kind of crazy.
But that’s a physical sickness, which then affects you emotionally and relationally.
What Jeremiah is describing in Lamentations is an emotional and relational situation, which then affects you physically.
I won’t go into all the details here, but I’ve had a handful of those moments in my life, and I’m sure you’ve had some too. That line, “my insides have turned to jelly,” gets me. Sitting “silent on the ground.” Dressed “in rough penitential burlap.”
I haven’t dressed in burlap, but I have stayed in the same clothes for two or three days, with my brain and heart feeling like they’re in a fog. I’ve felt like my insides are in shambles because of the emotional distress. And you know what?
I survived. I felt the pain, embraced it, and then, eventually, was able to move on.
So here’s how we’ll wrap this up and put a bow on it:
If you’ve ever felt like Jeremiah or the people of Jerusalem during this time, it’s ok. Grieving and expressing sorrow is part of life. A sucky part, for sure. But you don’t have to hide it, you don’t have to feel isolated and alone.
To steal a final line from Lamentations 2, “Get up and cry out in prayer. Pour your heart out face-to-face with the Master.”