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Lamentations 5:19-22 – Restore and Renew

Summary

Recognizing God's enduring reign sharpens the question of God's willingness to engage in the restoration and renewal of the community.

Analysis

The affirmation of God's steadfast love and will to save that has been articulated in the center of chapter 3 receives a brief mention again at the start of this section: "You, O LORD, reign forever; your throne endures to all generations." But if the Lord does so reign, then why are we suffering? God is directly asked by the speaker why the community has been completely forgotten and enduringly forsaken. Despite the finality asserted in the "why" questions, the speaker, speaking for the whole community, demands that the Lord restore and renew the community. Yet, behind the forceful petition lies some fear that it will not be answered affirmatively; the speaker wonders again whether God's rejection creates a final distance coupled with an angry engagement beyond all bounds. The question, petition, and fearful wondering are not answered. This ending for the book resists all attempts to rationalize or minimize suffering while the suffering persists. As such, it has provided words to express outrage again and again at the pain of living in a broken world that God has not yet repaired.

Lamentations 5:19-22


19 But you, O Lord, reign for ever;
   your throne endures to all generations.
20 Why have you forgotten us completely?
   Why have you forsaken us these many days?
21 Restore us to yourself, O Lord, that we may be restored;
   renew our days as of old—
22 unless you have utterly rejected us,
   and are angry with us beyond measure.

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