No One To Comfort Me- As Seen On Sunday
Verse of the Week
We have forgotten you as our comforter. We seek comfort in other things which deceive us but in the end, we only can find true comfort in you. Help us know when the priests are steering us wrong. Don't let us become like those who indulge in other lovers or heed the religious leaders who tell us what we want to hear: Dead or destitute.
We are broken but don't even know it. We cannot consider that the truth might be different than the narrative that we've been taught. The Same surprise came to the Israelites when they were finally destroyed after having forsaken you.
We confess that we deserve the same fate as the Israelites received in Lamentations.
This is the first sermon of our Lamentations series. The book comes from a place of deep grieving and well, “lamentation,” after Jerusalem is destroyed and many people are taken captive. It looks at the current living conditions of those who are still in Jerusalem.
Since we are jumping so far into chapter one right off the bat, here is a brief summary of what preceded our passage today. The city’s population has dwindled because of death and captivity. The enemy has taken over. The people are starving. And God is the one who has done all of it.
It is for these things Jerusalem weeps.
I started out at Verse 19 and then slowly added verses on either side until I ended up with a total of 7.
16 "For these things I weep;
my eyes flow with tears;
for a comforter is far from me,
one to revive my spirit;
my children are desolate,
for the enemy has prevailed."
17 Zion stretches out her hands,
but there is none to comfort her;
the Lord has commanded against Jacob
that his neighbors should be his foes;
Jerusalem has become
a filthy thing among them.
18 "The Lord is in the right,
for I have rebelled against his word;
but hear, all you peoples,
and see my suffering;
my young women and my young men
have gone into captivity.
19 "I called to my lovers,
but they deceived me;
my priests and elders
perished in the city,
while they sought food
to revive their strength.
20 "Look, O Lord, for I am in distress;
my stomach churns;
my heart is wrung within me,
because I have been very rebellious.
In the street the sword bereaves;
in the house it is like death.
21 "They heard my groaning,
yet there is no one to comfort me.
All my enemies have heard of my trouble;
they are glad that you have done it.
You have brought the day you announced;
now let them be as I am.
22 "Let all their evildoing come before you,
and deal with them
as you have dealt with me
because of all my transgressions;
for my groans are many,
and my heart is faint."
This verse stood out to me because of the two groups represented in it: Lovers and Priests. They are very important. From a modern perspective we always call for our lover and for a pastor when we are going to die, but in this passage both of them are gone. The lovers deceived Israel and the priests are dead. So I branched out to see what else is going on.
This is when I realized that “comfort” appears 3 times nearby ( a total of 6 times in Lamentations, 5 of which are in chapter 1). Just as the lovers and priests are gone, the reoccurring trend is not having comfort. Verse 16 “the comforter is far from me,” 17 “there is none to comfort her,” 21 “there is no one to comfort me.” Lovers should be comforting and the priests and elders were comforting as they ignored the warning of Jeremiah.
Interesting enough, verses 18, 19, and 20 do not mention comfort. Why? Because it acknowledges that God is righteous. The Israelites rebelled against God. God is credited with their destruction and yet they have no place to be mad at him. Personified Jerusalem knows that they forsook God. In these three verses we reflect on things that once brought comfort but now are a source of mourning: “my people are gone,” “my lovers deceived me,” the religious leaders are dead and the safety of the city is gone - All because of rebellion.
I think that having no comfort as a result of disobedience indicates that they sought out comfort in the wrong things. God was not the one that they relied on and now they are left with nothing. Elsewhere in Lamentations, the author feels as if God is not hearing him, almost like he is worried that God will not be their comfort when only He can. Yet, there is still hope. Lamentations 1 ends with an appeal that God will make their enemies just as He has made them. The nations could have helped the Israelites, but they did not, now they are asking for the Justice for what was done to them, and for the same to be done to their enemies as well. The lament has shifted to a petition.
I was reading recently in Genesis where God gives Abram (Abraham) the promise of his offspring being a great nation for the first time. And I was reminded that over all the generations of the Israelites, they had constantly been told that they were God’s chosen people. They heard this for 100s of years. I think it's safe to say they were pretty privileged and they let it go to their heads to the point that they forgot the one who made them blessed. They did not think anything was going to happen to them. They believed this to the point that they thought that if they turned from their idols they bad things THEN would happen, despite Jeremiah warning them that God was going to act.
Are we as white Christians in America guilty of this same fact? We always talk about white privilege, but what about Christian privilege in a country people believe is a Christian one? If America truly was a Christian nation, then we would have a lot more in common with the Israelites as they turned to other gods. Just as Jesus says to the church in Ephesus that they have forsaken their first love, so have Christians today. We have looked for comfort in other lovers (sometimes in the name of religion). But they deceive us. We are seduced but the truth comes out in our time of destruction. I am tempted to question how we allowed it to get this way, but two people in the garden who walked with God still fell prey to temptation, how much more a larger population of selfish and prideful people?
For now many Christians will continue to believe that God will bless their sinfulness.
Questions to think about
- Are there any crazy “prophets” out there warning us to repent just as Jeremiah did?
- Are we calling them crazy just like they called Jeremiah?
- How do we know who to listen to and who are quacks?
- What are things that we are taking comfort in that God is calling us back from?
- What are we helpless to find comfort from currently.
Cry out to God. Literally cry. Lament where we are. It is only then can we begin to turn from our false comforts and start to see God as The comfort.