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February 8

Lamentations 1, 17 – 22

Something to read

Zion stretches out her hands,
but there is no one to comfort her;
the Lord has commanded against Jacob
that his neighbours should become his foes;
Jerusalem has become
a filthy thing among them.

The Lord is in the right,
for I have rebelled against his word;
but hear, all you peoples,
and behold my suffering;
my young women and young men
have gone into captivity.

I called to my lovers
but they deceived me;
my priests and elders
perished in the city
while seeking food
to revive their strength.

See, O Lord, how distressed I am;
my stomach churns,
my heart is wrung within me,
because I have been very rebellious.
In the street the sword bereaves;
in the house it is like death.

They heard how I was groaning,
with no one to comfort me.
All my enemies heard of my trouble;
they are glad that you have done it.
Bring on the day you have announced,
and let them be as I am.

Let all their evildoing come before you;
and deal with them
as you have dealt with me
because of all my transgressions;
for my groans are many
and my heart is faint.

Something to think about

The book of Lamentations brings into the open the hidden victims of war who suffer long after the war is over.

Young women have gone into captivity along with the young men. The children are starving. A country that cannot protect its children is in despair.

Passers-by treat daughter Zion's plight as if it were trivial. She weeps for her isolation, for the abuse she has received and for the desolation of her children at the hands of her enemy. Finally, she begs God for retribution against her enemy.

Daughter Zion's prayer evokes the pain of women who have lost their children, who know sexual abuse and powerlessness, who are victims of war and famine. To pray with daughter Zion is to join with the struggles of women around the world.

She prays in confidence that if God sees the affliction of the beloved daughter Zion, the divine heart would be moved to compassion. She believes, as do all speakers of biblical laments, that God hears and values her life and that God will hear and act on her behalf.

Christian Aid shares this belief and seeks to hear and act on behalf of survivors of war, hunger and powerlessness.

Something to do

Think of a long-cherished dream you have, even if it is a little one - it might be to make a small garden or clear up some wasteland, or to do something for young people in your church or neighbourhood.

Begin to make some detailed plans for how the dream may become a reality. Find some people to carry them through with. If it’s a practical dream, then the right people will show up.

Something to pray

Lord Jesus,
May we who love you, and find in you our hope,
bear witness, as Thomas did,
that your risen body,
and the body of the earth itself 
still carries the marks
of the world’s violence, injustice and greed,
and as we remember,
help us to keep faith with all who still, today,
suffer the outrages of violence, injustice and greed.
In our actions, in our prayers, in our choices and in our commitment,
make us makers of peace and your faithful children.

Today’s contributor is Kathy Galloway, Christian Aid’s Head of Team in Scotland, a practical theologian, activist and writer, and member, and former leader, of the Iona Community

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