Have you ever seen poverty up close and personal? I mean real poverty where people live in sub-human conditions and where their next meal is never assured. Have you ever witnessed people being downtrodden and at the mercy of ruthless landlords and businessmen? I witnessed this when I served as a missionary in Kenya. It is awful! There is no other word for it. It is sad beyond belief! People living in ramshackle buildings that are packed together like the proverbial ‘sardines in a tin can’. How can people live like this? How do they survive the filth of the slums and their meagre food allowances?
I saw this almost every day for over three years and my heart was always heavy! Yet, amidst this physical poverty, I witnessed something quite extraordinary. I sat with people who lived in hope… I sat with people in their mud walled and corrugated iron one room homes who actually rejoiced … I was overwhelmed by how people still worshipped God despite their dreadful circumstances! They prayed and looked to God to sustain them and in special ways God did!
Compare these joyous people with the despairing people in Lamentations. We have witnessed their downfall of a once proud and strong nation. Tragically for them, they had forgotten Who and what made them such a formidable nation that was the envy of the known world. They had forgotten that when they had God at the helm as King, they were well provided for and protected on all sides from their many enemies. As you know, they decided to go it alone. So God walked away from them and allowed their great adversary Babylon to come in and plunder them. We find them, after many years of occupation and exile, in a state of despair and dreadful physical poverty … not only physical but also spiritual poverty because they were without God! They were miserable beyond belief!
And now, they finally come to their senses. They call out to God in prayer for mercy. Finally, they realize exactly who He is. In response, they humbled themselves before Him and pleaded for a restored relationship with Him. This took decades … slow learners … yes! But are we any different? Do we sometimes suffer spiritual poverty because of the choices we make in life? There is much for us to take in from this rather dour but insightful book of the Bible! Hope that you have found blessing in it!