“For the Lord will not cast off for ever, but though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; for he does not willingly afflict or grieve the sons of men.” Lamentations 3:31-33
The book of Lamentations was written to mourn and lament the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple by the Babylonians. The people of Jerusalem not only suffered from the loss of the center of their faith, Solomon’s Temple, but they were beseiged and enveloped by violence, terror, hunger, and many other unimaginable horrors, and eventually were exiled to a strange and foreign land. Lamentations gives voice to the entire range of pain and suffering that we experience on this earth.
Lamentations also expresses the confusing sentiment that although God causes grief, he doesn’t do so willingly. This is the question that we sit with today, on Good Friday. Today we lament the death of Jesus, and it is worth asking: how could God allow his own son to be affixed to a cross, tortured, and killed? Yet we can also see that, as painful as it is, this moment is the moment of God’s deepest compassion for us, his children. God does not willingly afflict or grieve the sons of men, but when we are afflicted and grieving, he stands with us in solidarity on the cross, suffering with us.
We must walk through Good Friday to stand in joy on Easter Sunday. Each of us at some point in our lives walk through our own Good Friday moments. When that happens, may we turn to the Book of Lamentations, which gives voice to our own pain, and to God, who suffers with us.
Appointed readings for today: Isaiah 52:13-53:12, Psalm 22, John 18:1-19:42