Lamentations 5:22 Unless You [God] have utterly rejected us and are exceedingly angry with us.
Lamentations 5 as a whole stands different from the previous 4 chapters. The first four chapters employed acrostics (a poetic device) to order the apparent disorder of Jerusalem’s recent experience. In essence, the first four chapters are lament poems which seek to express the inexpressible, to articulate what may genuinely feel as ineffable. Lamentations 5 breaks with that order, as if the poet were telling his readers that he can no longer contain his anguish in an orderly fashion, but that all of it pours out of him uncontrollably.
The final verse in Lamentations (see above) ends on a note of ambiguity, leaving readers with an air of uncertainty. Reading the three immediately prior verses fails to resolve this precarity. To the contrary, verses 19-20 emphasize a tension and verse 22 makes no attempt to resolve that tension. Where then does that leave us as Christians, considering that we are not Jerusalem? We are not Israel’s replacement! Yet, the church is God’s answer for the Gentiles who ask, “How may I serve You, O Lord?” As being a part of God’s answer, we need to learn from the sages, even when deciphering a perplexing verse.
As one reflects on 5:22, after having read through the entirety of Jerusalem’s funeral dirge, the lack of consolation, of final resolution seems rather unsettling. But, my dear brethren, that is the point. The life bequeathed to and sustained for us by the Lord, though a tremendous gift, is fraught with tribulations, and incredible malevolence. The wicked prolong their life, and the righteous perish in their righteousness (Ecc. 7:15). Indeed, the Christian himself exists in an already-not-yet state which only aids in exacerbating the tension.
However, the tension is necessary, and the precarity is good. As creatures of the Imago Dei, Christians understand what the world has lost, what our sins have wrought. Death was never part of the original created order, and one day Death will meet its own divine judgment (Rev. 20:14). Yet, simultaneously as Christians, we know what we have gained and obtained from the Lord’s sacrifice and mercy. God has promised much, and He intends to fulfill His Word. He certainly fulfilled His wrath as He had promised Israel (Deut. 28:15-68). He Who kept His promise of Justice will certainly fulfill His promised covenant and restoration. In this, God’s people have hope, and we should not despair.
Until God fulfills His promised restoration, the uncertainty and tension that accompanies daily life will not dissipate. It is what it means to live. But that tension should keep our eyes focused on God, and further increase our trust and reliance upon Him. Natural disasters will continue to befall us, and humans will devise evil in their hearts. Yet we know that our Redeemer lives, and that He will raise us up on the last day. The glorification of Romans 8 is so certain, it is as if it has already happened, but we are not yet there! We yearn for eternity, redemption, and restoration, yet sin will continue to obtain its wages.
This final verse brings this to the forefront. Life is not easily resolved. God gives long-term certainty, but daily life remains uncertain. Yet, as the poet has demonstrated profusely, suffering in silence is no virtue. Even Christ cried out when hanging on the cross! Express your anguish and suffering to the Lord. Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you (1 Pet. 5:7), for His yoke is easy and His burden is light, and He will give you rest (Matt. 11:28, 30).