How relevant is Lamentations 4 to America, indeed, to our whole world today.
God shook Jerusalem.
And when He did, peoples’ idols were unearthed, as they faced the fact that their idols could not help them in crisis. Jeremiah writes:
gold has lost its luster
people have become heartless
princes are blacker than soot
nations cannot save us
I have been struck by the verse in Hebrews that tells us God will shake our worlds so that what cannot be shaken will be revealed. That’s what happens when real trouble comes. With Peter, we cry,
to whom can I go but to You, Lord?
Let us prepare our hearts with this.
I was shocked a few weeks ago when one of our new Supreme Court justices voted to support the LGBT+ agenda over protecting religious rights. Here I was sure he was an originalist who would protect religious rights, God’s view of marriage, and so much more. But no — shaking reveals where we have misplaced trust. On a more grave and personal note, losing Steve shook my world and pressed me into Jesus like never before.
Highlights from Last Week:
Julie said she has learned that lamenting is transformative — and it is. Here are some testimonies of God exchanging our weakness for His strength through the lament!
One time when God took up my cause. I would say this happened when I was giving care to my Mother in her last years. I wondered how I could sustain doing this when I had given up so much and there were many difficulties. But God was with me and provided the means, though I struggled. I was encouraged even when I felt helpless to protect her, as she needed so much and my strength was weak.
Many years ago, my husband and I were taking steps toward going to Kenya for him to teach at a Bible seminary. Our children were yet quite small and there were a lot of unknowns in the mix and a fair amount of risk. I was filled with fears. One night he and I had a long, heated discussion about continuing on that path. I admitted my fears and my not ‘wanting’ to go. It seemed that confessing my fear was what God wanted me to do in order to still my fainting heart and reassure me that it was ‘alright’, that I could trust him. From that point, we continued to walk forward and did go to Kenya for three years. My fears and the risks had not changed, but I was able to put my hand into God’s hand and go step by step – not perfectly, but in faith. It was not an easy three years, but God walked with us and we have wonderful memories and met many wonderful children of God.
When my heart says “It is hopeless” for my daughter, I am arguing back!
Sunday: Getting Started
- What stands out to you from the above and why?
- What idols of yours have been revealed to you by a crisis? By what is happening in the world?
Monday: Overview of Lamentations 4
3. Read Lamentations 4 to yourself out loud, and share anything that stands out to you and why.
4. Find the idols that are unearthed in Lamentations 4:
5. If even our religious leaders can become corrupt, how can we have discernment on whom to believe and whom not to believe?
5. Read the opening of Chapter 7 and share what stands out to you. In what ways can you identify?
6. In Dark Clouds, read Lament: Language of Exiles and share what stands out to you.
7. Read 1 Peter 2:9-12 and describe how an exile should live. How does this speak to you?
8. Read Lamentations 4: Unearthing Idols
A. What stands out to you and why?
B. What is an idol?
C. How can suffering reveal it?
Wednesday: Idols of Finances and People
We surely do not know what is ahead — but a recession or depression seems very likely. Men are often particularly shaken by this, but we as women, especially if we are single, can be too. Women are more likely to be shaken when people they trusted fail them. Yet we dare not “trust the sweetest frame…” The only one who will never move away, never betray us, and never die is Jesus.
While Lamentations surely can feel like a dark cloud, it is meant to lead us to the Rock who is higher than high.
9. Read Fixating on Financial Security and share what stands out to you.
10. How did the funeral of a friend’s child awaken the author? Have you had an experience
11. Read Treating People like Saviors and share what stands out to you.
12. Is there a person who tend to do this with — how could you speak to your soul about this?
If it is a spouse or close friend — how could you help each other find strength in God
instead of in one another?
13. Meditate on Lamentations 4:20. What is it telling us?
Thursday: Cultural Comfort and Spiritual Leaders
I finally saw “Hamilton” by renting the Disney Channel for a month. It was so intriguing, and I was thankful for sub-titles, as I’m not good with rap. It inspired me to listen to the book that inspired Lynne Manuel to write the musical. I learned so much! I always thought most of our country’s founders were Christians, but though they may have embraced many Christian principles, they were Deists. A Desist believes in an impersonal God and takes whatever principles he likes from religions (usually Christianity). John Adams was a Christian — but that was about it. Hamilton and Adams were the only ones not to have slaves. It was so interesting and helped me realize that though we are blessed with a wonderful country, it truly was not built on The Solid Rock. We have so much to be thankful for in America, but I do think it is because God has been merciful, and not that we are so great. It also feels as if God has removed His hand.
I also know how many people have put their pastor on a pedestal, only to face great disillusionment.
14. Comment on the above.
15. Read Cultural Comfort and comment. What area of our cultural downfall can you pray a
prayer of lament?
16. Read Idolizing Spiritual Leaders and comment.
17. Read Daniel 9:4-8. Comment.
Friday: Not Without Hope
18. Read Presuming Divine Favor and share your comments.
19. Read Lamentations 4:22
A. What hope is there for God’s people?
B. What stands out to you from the section: Not Without Hope
20. Take two of the discussion questions and answer them.
21. What is your take-a-way this week and why?