1 Jerusalem once was a city full of people,
but now the city is so empty.
She was one of the greatest cities in the world,
but now she is like a poor widow.
She was once a princess among cities,
but now she has been made a slave.
2 She cries bitterly in the night.
Her tears are on her cheeks.
She has no one to comfort her.
Many nations were friendly to her,
but not one of them comforts her now.
All her friends have turned their backs on her
and have become her enemies.
3 Judah suffered very much,
and then she was taken into captivity.
She lives among other nations
but has found no rest.
The people who chased her caught her
where there was no way out.
4 The roads to Zion are very sad,
because no one comes to Zion for the festivals anymore.
All of Zion’s gates have been destroyed;
all her priests groan in sorrow.
Zion’s young women have been taken away,
and all this made Zion sad.
5 Jerusalem’s enemies have won.
Her enemies have been successful.
This happened because the Lord punished her.
He punished Jerusalem for her many sins.
Her children have gone away.
Their enemies captured them and took them away.
6 The beauty of Daughter Zion has gone away.
Her princes were like deer that cannot find a meadow to feed in.
They walk away without strength from those who chased them.
7 Jerusalem thinks back.
She remembers the time when she was hurt
and when she lost her home.
She remembers all the nice things that she had in the past.
She remembers those nice things that she had in the old days.
She remembers when her people were captured by the enemy.
She remembers when there was no one to help her.
When her enemies saw her, they laughed,
because she was destroyed.
8 Jerusalem sinned very badly.
Because Jerusalem sinned,
she became a ruined city that people shake their heads about.
In the past people respected her.
But now they hate her,
because they abused her.
and turned away.
9 Jerusalem’s skirts were dirty.
She gave no thought to what would become of her.
Her fall was amazing.
She had no one to comfort her.
She says, “Lord, see how I am hurt!
See how my enemy thinks he is so great!”
10 The enemy stretched out his hand.
He took all her nice things.
In fact, she saw the foreign nations go inside her Temple.
And you said those people could not join in our assembly!
11 All the people of Jerusalem are groaning.
All of her people are looking for food.
They are giving away all their nice things for food to stay alive.
Jerusalem says, “Look, Lord. Look at me!
See how people hate me.
12 All you who pass by on the road, you don’t seem to care.
But look at me and see.
Is there any pain like my pain?
Is there any pain like the pain that has come to me?
Is there any pain like the pain that the Lord has punished me with?
He has punished me on the day of his great anger.
13 The Lord sent fire from above
that went down into my bones.
He stretched out a net for my feet.
He turned me all the way around.
He made me into a wasteland.
I am sick all day.
14 “My sins were tied up like a yoke.
My sins were tied up in the Lord’s hands.
His yoke is on my neck.
He has made me weak.
He has given me to those
who I cannot stand up against.
15 “The Lord rejected all my powerful men
who were inside the city.
Then he brought a group of people against me.
He brought them to kill my young soldiers.
The Lord has trampled his dearest city
like grapes in a winepress.
16 “I cry about all these things.
Tears are flowing down my cheeks.
There is no one near to comfort me.
There is no one who can make me feel better.
My children are like a wasteland,
because the enemy won.”
17 Zion spread out her hands.
There was no one to comfort her.
The Lord had given orders to Jacob’s enemies.
He ordered them to surround the city.
Jerusalem has become a dirty rag
that her enemies threw away.
18 Now Jerusalem says, “I refused to listen to the Lord,
so he is right for doing these things.
So listen, all you people!
Look at my pain!
My young women and men
have gone into captivity.
19 I called out to my lovers,
but they tricked me.
My priests and my elders
have died in the city.
They were looking for food for themselves.
They wanted to keep themselves alive.
20 “Look at me, Lord. I am in distress!
I am upset, as if my heart turned upside down inside of me.
I feel this way because
I have been so stubborn.
Out in the streets,
I lost my children to the swords.
Inside, it is like death.
21 “Listen to me, I am groaning.
I have no one to comfort me.
All my enemies have heard of my trouble.
They are happy that you did this to me.
You said there would be a time of punishment.
You said you would punish my enemies.
Now do what you said.
Let my enemies be like I am now.
22 “Look how evil my enemies are!
Then you can treat them the same way you treated me
because of all my sins.
Do this because I am groaning again and again.
Do this because my heart is sick.”
This week's questions for reflection are:
- Has your experience of Church allowed room for great sorrow? Why or why not?
- Have you used lament in the Bible? How has God helped you process grief?
- How free do you feel to be honest with God in your prayers? Does Lamentations help you be more honest?