TODAY’S READING: Lamentations 1–2
The central sadness of Lamentations is the grief of knowing that what God wanted to be a positive blessing to all peoples became a negative lesson. “The book of Lamentations consists of five separate poems on the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. These funeral songs and prayers describe both the horrors of the extended siege…and the destruction itself. No other book captures the despair of seeing Zion destroyed, of seeing the holy city and its temple become a mockery to the nations.”  Lamentations is attributed to Jeremiah though his name is not mentioned. A witness to the days that Jerusalem finally fell certainly wrote it. The one book of the Bible titled by weeping is about the failure of missions. Israel was intended to be a light to all nations, and its failure made God cry. And God still weeps. Perhaps we should weep with Him.
We should weep over the state of the church. How lonely the halls once filled with eager worshipers (Lam. 1:1). Churches in Europe and America are becoming mosques. Americans go to church less than twice a month on average. Mainline denominations are in decline. The faithful are aging. Some Christians endorse and approve homosexuality. Hell is denied. The Bible is neglected. None of these laments are new, but they are growing. God still weeps. Fire has fallen in the house of God (v. 4), but not the fire of revival. The Lord has abandoned His sanctuary, and strangers roam His halls. We have performance and narcissism, but no power or nobility. Our eyes fill and fail with tears (2:11).
We should weep over the state of the lost: 3.15 billion people of the world in 7,000 unreached people groups who have not had an adequate witness of the gospel in their heart language. Every second or so, somewhere around the world, a soul dies and goes to eternal punishment. Not only are the lost without adequate witness, they also do despicable things to one another. The world grows worse not better; education and technology help us become crueler and more efficient in both greed and violence. We kill our young and our old. We hate our neighbor. Digitally more connected than ever before, we have never been more alone. For these things we weep (1:16).
We should weep over the state of missions. Our prophetic voices lie to us (2:14). We are no longer challenged to die for the sake of others. We are coached on how to pamper ourselves, live in comfort, and retire in ease. We spend more money on bubble gum and dog food than we do on the cause of global missions. We spend more on Halloween costumes for our pets than we do on sending missionaries to evangelize unreached peoples. Missionaries that go to unreached peoples on average last about four years before giving up or going home. We should indeed rise up in the night, lift our hands to the Lord, and cry (v. 19).
Today there is too much self-congratulation and not enough weeping among us. Lamentations reminds us that a missionary God cries, and so should we. When was the last time you wept over the state of the church, the state of the lost, or the state of missions?
 The Chronological Study Bible. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2008. 811.