The tears of the world

Biblical scholar Kathleen O’Connor (Lamentations and the Tears of the World, 2002) sees the poetry of Lamentations as simultaneously an act of truth, of hope, of justice, of resistance and of wholeness. The people speak the truth of their situation to God and hold out hope that God still hears them. They come to terms with their despair, losses, and anger so that they can regain full humanity, release their energies for doing good, and live in community with others.

Their tears allow for healing. They expose wounds and painful memories, but therein lies the possibility of change.

“Expression of pain is essential to prayer,” O’Connor says. “It is that simple and that difficult. By telling the truth of its world to God, Lamentations becomes a school for prayer.”

The last verse, is fearsome, “a nightmare of abandonment, like a child’s terror that the only ones who can protect her and give her a home have rejected her forever.”

 For now you have indeed rejected us, and in full measure turned your wrath against us. (5:22)

Speaking truth to God, O’Connor says, “can seem unthinkable, because God already knows, or because God may not care, or because God appears to be the cause of the trouble in the first place.

“But as in any relationship, not speaking truth to God causes a dwindling of mutuality and an expansion of anger, resentment, and alienation. Pray anyway.”

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One response to “The tears of the world

  1. Cecilia Woodley

    Martha, thank you for your thoughts on the Book of Lamentations. I have spoken my anger to God, also — He can take it!

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