23 April 2011

Lamentations 3:1-24

"But this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." (vv. 21-23)


Holy Saturday. The day when God is silent.

In his book, God on Mute, Pete Greig writes,

"No-one really talks about Holy Saturday, yet if we stop and think about it, it's where most of us live our lives. Holy Saturday is the no man's land between questions and answers, prayers uttered and miracles to come. It's where we wait - with a peculiar mixture of faith and despair - whenever God is silent or life doesn't make sense." (Eastbourne, Kingsway Survivor, 2007)

We meet with the despair of God's absence in this passage from Lamentations. The people of God are exiled and afraid. The writer powerfully describes the depths of human distress and despair. As we read this passage, we can hear the violence, misery, loneliness and abuses suffered by the people of God.

Even the writer uses their own experience as a symbol of the suffering of the nation. This is an image of utter helplessness and hopelessness. God is 'on mute', silent to the cries of God's own chosen people.

The passage goes into great poetic detail about the sufferings and abuses inflicted on the writer and on the nation. There are images of broken bones and arthritically crippled joints. There are masses of broken hearts. We find descriptions of the pits of depression, and the isolation and claustrophobia of psychological frailty. The bitter taste of gall rises to our throats, just as it does to the writer.

In the midst of this horrifically honest series of emotions and events, there is one thing that gives peace and hope in this passage. In verses 23-24 the writer offers one shard of grace in the mix of pain and suffering.

The writer calls on the people to remember. To call to mind. To think about the things of the past and to recall that God showed that God is known through love, compassion, justice, mercy and peace. The people are told to remember that each day, God demonstrates God's care for creation. Every morning offers new blessings. For great is God's faithfulness - shown time and again to God's people.

To Ponder

When have you experienced the silence/absence of God?

How do you identify with the writer of this passage?

Write a lament based on your current experiences.

Bible notes author

The Revd Dr Joanne Cox-Darling (1)

Joanne Cox-Darling is a Methodist presbyter currently serving in the Wolverhampton Circuit, where most recently she participated in a harvest festival in a farmyard, surrounded by a 'small' dairy herd of nearly 200 cattle. Joanne is the chair of the Christian Enquiries Agency ( - described by the Archbishop of York as the "possibly the easiest form of evangelism you will ever do".