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Lamentations 哀歌

“Whinging” – an Australian word for complaining, whining, moaning, grumbling, griping etc – you get the picture.  Australians believe that no people on the earth whinge more than the English.  In fact, it’s such a commonly held belief that we have coined the term ‘Pommie whinger’.  Now, this sermon has nothing at all to do with the lovely English people but it does have something to do with whinging, sort of.
Whinging is a bit like gossip – it only makes the situation worse.  Clip – Needleman from Monsters Inc. “You’re making it worse!”“よけいひどくなるじゃないか!”

Today we continue our 7 year series on the books of the Bible and today we look at the book of Lamentations. 哀歌
Lamentation – or ‘lament’ is not a word that we use commonly in conversation today.
“How was your weekend, Bob?”
“Not great.  Did a bit of lamenting on Saturday.”
We just don’t talk like this.

A lament is “a passionate expression of grief or sorrow”.  If we take this merely at surface level, then we’re in for a morbid sermon.  A bit like watching videos of funerals for fun.  But as we study what a lament truly is – in the godly sense – we see that it is very different from a whinge (which only leads to negativity and hopeless).  On the contrary, godly lamenting leads to healing, to righteousness and to hope. 嘆きとは、“悲しみの情熱的は表現”です。 神の御心にかなった嘆きは、癒し、正義、希望へと導きます。

So it helps us to understand what lamenting really is and why a whole book of it appears in the Bible.
History [image]: Creation; God appears to Abraham and promises him that he will be the father of a nation; Joseph and the Israelites in Egypt; Moses and the exodus from Egypt; the wandering in the desert; the giving of the law; the conquering of the Promised Land; rebellion during the time of the judges; Saul the first king; the prophet Samuel; King David, King Solomon – Israel at the height of her glory; continued rebellion, warnings, more rebellion and more warnings; finally, the exile – Israel conquered and driven from the Promised Land, led away into captivity into Babylon.  All is lost – the promises, the land, the glory, the righteousness, the hope.  And so there is nothing left to do but lament all that has been lost.

The book of Lamentations is powerful and meaningful firstly because it teaches us how to properly lament so that we don’t become a bunch of whingers. 哀歌はまず力強く、意味深いのです。なぜなら正しく嘆くことを教えてくれるからです。
Life brings all sorts of hardships and hurts and loss and mourning.  Sometimes it’s caused by circumstances and is the result of living in a fallen world, sometimes it’s caused directly by other people, and sometimes we bring it on ourselves.  But if all we ever do is whinge about our troubles and sufferings, then we’re just making our lot worse – for ourselves and for those around us.
If you are a human being and you are alive, there will come a time to mourn, a time to grieve, a time to heal – a time to lament – and the book of Lamentations shows us how to do that in the right way.

1 It calls us to be honest.  It doesn’t sugarcoat the past or avoid it.  It doesn’t make excuses for what has happened.  It doesn’t try to justify sin. It doesn’t play the pain up or play the pain down. 正直になることが求められている。

So Lamentations (1:1-3) starts with this:
How deserted lies the city, once so full of people!
How like a widow is she, who once was great among the nations!
She who was queen among the provinces has now become a slave.
2 Bitterly she weeps at night, tears are on her cheeks.
Among all her lovers there is no one to comfort her.
All her friends have betrayed her; they have become her enemies.
3 After affliction and harsh labor, Judah has gone into exile.
She dwells among the nations; she finds no resting place.
All who pursue her have overtaken her in the midst of her distress.

1 ああ、むかしは、民の満ちみちていたこの都、国々の民のうちで大いなる者であったこの町、今は寂しいさまで座し、やもめのようになった。もろもろの町のうちで女王であった者、今は奴隷となった。 2 これは夜もすがらいたく泣き悲しみ、そのほおには涙が流れている。そのすべての愛する者のうちには、これを慰める者はひとりもなく、そのすべての友はこれにそむいて、その敵となった。 3 ユダは悩みのゆえに、また激しい苦役のゆえに、のがれて行って、もろもろの国民のうちに住んでいるが、安息を得ず、これを追う者がみな追いついてみると、悩みのうちにあった。哀歌1:1-3
It’s an honest assessment of the situation and of Israel’s guilt.

2. It leads us to repentance.  This is key.  Sometimes – perhaps often – our hardships are the results of our own foolishness or waywardness.  And so we are called to repentance.  And it’s something that we’re not naturally terribly good at.  Look at almost any scandal today – Bill Clinton, Lance Armstrong, Sepp Blatter (FIFA), VW cars, etc etc – the first rule in trouble seems to be deny, the second is to deny, and then the third is also to deny.  Once guilt is proved beyond all doubt, make a teary confession, preferably on Oprah’s couch, and hope that people are forgiving enough to not affect your endorsements too much.  It’s all about damage control; not contrition, not repentance, not righteousness. 悔い改めへと導く。 最近のスキャンダルを見れば分かります。 困ったことになるとまず最初に否定します、次に否定します、そしてまた否定します。 すべて被害対策であって、痛恨、悔い改め、正義ではありません。

The book of Lamentation teaches us to accept responsibility for our sins – to confess our sins and to turn from them. Lamentations 1:20-22
“See, Lord, how distressed I am! I am in torment within,
and in my heart I am disturbed, for I have been most rebellious.
Outside, the sword bereaves; inside, there is only death.
21 “People have heard my groaning, but there is no one to comfort me.
All my enemies have heard of my distress; they rejoice at what you have done.
May you bring the day you have announced so they may become like me.
22 “Let all their wickedness come before you; deal with them
as you have dealt with me because of all my sins.
My groans are many and my heart is faint.”
21 わたしがどんなに嘆くかを聞いてください。わたしを慰める者はひとりもなく、敵はみなわたしの悩みを聞いて、あなたがこれをなされたのを喜んだ。あなたがさきに告げ知らせたその日をきたらせ、彼らをも、わたしのようにしてください。
22 彼らの悪をことごとくあなたの前にあらわし、さきにわがもろもろのとがのために、わたしに行われたように、彼らにも行ってください。わが嘆きは多く、わが心は弱りはてているからです」。 哀歌1:20-22
True lamenting will lead to repentance wherever and whenever it is needed.

3. It leads to hope. 希望へと導く
The laments don’t degenerate into a spiral of despair and anger and self-pity and hopelessness and rejection.  The laments ultimately lead to hope, not out of some new age positive thinking, but out of a genuine trust in the unfailing love of God.
When all seems utterly lost – with God there is hope.
• In Egypt, the Israelites were slaves and brutally treated.  It looked hopeless for them.  BUT God delivered them out of Egypt – by a series of powerful miracles. しかし神は一連の力強い奇跡をもって彼らを救い出しました。
• At the time of the exile, the Israelites had been conquered and led away as captives.  For 70 years it looked hopeless.  BUT God had other ideas and brought the remnant back and re-established the nation.
• When Jesus the Christ came he looked set to lead the world into a new kingdom but he was nailed to a cross and killed.  That was it.  The end.  Except that it wasn’t because they forgot about the ‘BUT God’.  But God raised Him from the dead and gave Him the name that is above every name. しかし神は死からイエスをよみがえらせ、すべての名にまさる名をお与えになりました。

At the centre of Lamentations – as though this were the central theme of the book – in the middle of the grief, comes one of the most beautiful and inspiring passages in all of scripture: Lamentations 3:22-33
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”
The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him;
it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.
It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is young.
Let him sit alone in silence, for the Lord has laid it on him.
Let him bury his face in the dust—there may yet be hope.
Let him offer his cheek to one who would strike him, and let him be filled with disgrace. For no one is cast off by the Lord forever.
Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love.
For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone.
23 これは朝ごとに新しく、あなたの真実は大きい。 24 わが魂は言う、「主はわたしの受くべき分である、それゆえ、わたしは彼を待ち望む」と。
25 主はおのれを待ち望む者と、おのれを尋ね求める者にむかって恵みふかい。 26 主の救を静かに待ち望むことは、良いことである。
27 人が若い時にくびきを負うことは、良いことである。 28 主がこれを負わせられるとき、ひとりすわって黙しているがよい。
29 口をちりにつけよ、あるいはなお望みがあるであろう。 30 おのれを撃つ者にほおを向け、満ち足りるまでに、はずかしめを受けよ。
31 主はとこしえにこのような人を/捨てられないからである。 32 彼は悩みを与えられるが、そのいつくしみが豊かなので、またあわれみをたれられる。 33 彼は心から人の子を/苦しめ悩ますことをされないからである。
Note again this comes in the middle of lamenting loss and sin and grief.  Here is the lesson for us.  Even in our deepest pain and greatest moments of loss and anguish and frustration, there is hope.  Again, this is not just in some cosmic ‘everything will work out in the end’ kind of guesswork.  It is rooted in faith that God is good and his plans for our lives remain unaffected when we are in Christ. どんなに深い痛みの中にあっても、どんなに大切なものを失い、苦悩や不満を抱えていたとしても、希望があります。

We’re given other examples of this ‘hope amidst despair’ in the Bible.
Psalm 22:1-5 – quoted in part by Jesus on the cross
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
   Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish?
My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest.
3 Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the one Israel praises.
In you our ancestors put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them.
To you they cried out and were saved; in you they trusted and were not put to shame.
2 わが神よ、わたしが昼よばわっても、あなたは答えられず、夜よばわっても平安を得ません。3 しかしイスラエルのさんびの上に座しておられるあなたは聖なるおかたです。4 われらの先祖たちはあなたに信頼しました。彼らが信頼したので、あなたは彼らを助けられました。
5 彼らはあなたに呼ばわって救われ、あなたに信頼して恥をうけなかったのです。 詩篇22:1-5

Titus 3:3-7 captures how this works in all our lives:
At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.
わたしたちも以前には、無分別で、不従順な、迷っていた者であって、さまざまの情欲と快楽との奴隷になり、悪意とねたみとで日を過ごし、人に憎まれ、互に憎み合っていた。 4 ところが、わたしたちの救主なる神の慈悲と博愛とが現れたとき、 5 わたしたちの行った義のわざによってではなく、ただ神のあわれみによって、再生の洗いを受け、聖霊により新たにされて、わたしたちは救われたのである。 6 この聖霊は、わたしたちの救主イエス・キリストをとおして、わたしたちの上に豊かに注がれた。 7 これは、わたしたちが、キリストの恵みによって義とされ、永遠のいのちを望むことによって、御国をつぐ者となるためである。 テトスへの手紙3:3-7

I could give other examples from the beatitudes and other teachings of Jesus but I think you get the picture.
Let me recap:
• The book of Lamentations records the passionate grief of an Israel that has been led away into captivity. 哀歌は捕らわれてしまったイスラエルの深い悲しみが記録されている。
• It records Israel’s repentance イスラエルの悔い改めが記録されている。
• It records Israel’s hope in the goodness and love of God – a hope that was rewarded with restoration.
神の素晴らしさと神の愛にイスラエルが希望を持っていることが記録されている。その希望は    回復を与えてくれるもの。
• It teaches us to be honest with ourselves, to repent and to have hope even when things are utterly disastrous – a hope that will be rewarded with deliverance and newness of life.
自分自身に正直であること、悔い改めること、全く悲惨な状況にあるときでも希望を持つことを教えてくれる。その希望とは、救出と新しい人生を与えてくれるもの。 Pray.