The Francis Asbury Society

FACE TO FACE: Intimate Moments with God 3/14

Posted on | March 14, 2016 | Comments Off on FACE TO FACE: Intimate Moments with God 3/14

Scripture reading: Psalm 42

Singing the Blues

How lonely sits the city that was full of people! How like a widow has she become,

she who was great among the nations! (Lamentations 1:1)

 

In 1919 William Butler Yeats felt like the world was coming apart. The bloodbath of the First World War and the rise of atheistic Communism in Russia made it seem that the Last Days had come. He wrote a poem to express what he was feeling.

Things fall apart; the center cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world . . . Surely the Second Coming is at hand . . .

Jeremiah had a similar reaction in 586 B.C. when his world fell apart. Jerusalem had fallen, the Temple had been destroyed, and the Jewish people had been forced into exile to Babylon. Like Yeats, Jeremiah picked up his pen and wrote the poem that today we know as the Book of Lamentations. Actually, the book is a collection of five poems and was probably intended to be sung! Jeremiah knew that perhaps the best way to cope with tragedy was to sing the blues. If you hurting today over some loss you have experienced or if it seems to you that things are falling apart, let Jeremiah’s little hymn book on suffering help you learn how to sing the blues God’s way.

,. Be honest. Jeremiah knew that the first essential in dealing with tragedy was to be real. Denying our pain or pretending things aren’t as bad as they are never helped anyone. Lamentations is utterly candid in its description of how much pain hurts!

,. Be thorough. Each of the five poems in Lamentations is an acrostic, meaning that each verse of each poem begins with a successive letter of the alpha- bet. Because the Hebrew alphabet has 22 letters, each chapter has 22 verses (except the third chapter which has 66 verses, a triple application). In other words, Jeremiah is systematically listing one by one the people, places, events, objects, and blessings that he has lost. He refuses to leave anything out. When he gets to the end of the alphabet, he has a choice. Will I go through the alphabet of suffering again (there are five repetitions) or will I decide that I have grieved sufficiently and move on?

,. Be connected. This book was meant to be read or sung aloud in the context of corporate worship. Few things are more dangerous than grieving in isolation. God doesn’t want anyone to sing the blues alone!

,. Be theological. Lamentations is not a psychology book. No, this book is about God! And when we sing the blues, we are singing to him! Because God is sovereign, he is ultimately responsible for everything that happens. Jeremiah is inviting us to enter into dialogue with the only One who can ultimately help us cope.

,. Be hopeful. Though most of the book of Lamentations is a litany of pain and sorrow, there is one bright hope of promise lodged right in the middle:

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.

“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” (Lamentations 3:21–24)

 

I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming

conviction that I had nowhere else to go.—Abraham Lincoln

 

point to ponder When we sing the blues, we are singing to God.

prayer focus For one whose world is falling apart.

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