What does it say?
The third lament is the very heart of the book and the longest of the five. This also differs from the others in that the fallen city of Jerusalem is seen through the eyes of the author. At this point the pain is intensely personal. Take the time to identify as much as possible with the prophet’s emotions and descriptions.
In Lamentations 4, this lament is similar to the second. It details the horrors of the siege as well as the sins of the people that brought it all about.
Chapter 5 is a bit different. Though still a lament, it is more in the form of a soulful prayer. Though it also has 22 verses, it is not written as an acrostic like the others. The author defines what defeat looks like and concludes with an anguish-filled prayer for restoration.
What does it mean?
Some of us have the tendency to simply bear up when suffering and try to divorce ourselves from our emotions. There is a moment to simply do what we need to do regardless of our emotions, but to successfully learn from our experiences and move forward, it is necessary to identify, articulate and process correctly our emotions. This is one of the more powerful lessons we can learn from example in this book.
As we read the remaining three laments, we will do well to slow down and feel the emotions as best we can. What events in our lives have produced similar emotions in us? What can we learn? How will we make practical application so as not to pass this way again? As you read, identify and articulate emotions and even try to imagine what these words might sound like accompanied by music.
Another vital thing to observe are the flashes of grace and hope that are clearly as part of the fabric of the book as are the painful emotions. See especially Lamentations 3:22-36. Can you identify other points of hope?
How will I respond?
Thinking back on one of the most painful moments of my life, can I remember that God held our flashes of hope? Maybe it was what I saw in scripture, the encouragement in word and presence of a friend or other close relationship. How did this hope appear and how did I respond? How will I respond today in light of what I am reading here?