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VBS week 2020 Day 3


As a tribute to my love of Vacation Bible School, both as a child and as an adult, I started this end of summer series a few years back. At least one of you all loves it as much as I do (you know who you are) and she carries enough enthusiasm for ten people, so I am always encouraged to continue. 

If you didn’t have the pleasure of attending VBS as a child, or volunteering as an adult, I am so sorry. There is something about having a place to go from 9-11 for five days and following a set schedule where you move from the opening gathering to various stations that include themed crafts, snacks, lessons and games that feels so good after a summer full of non-structure. 

Here on the Journey, we have the lesson and sometimes an activity offered, but the snacks are on you as are the arts and crafts, songs and skits. I can only do so much. Also you don’t have to clean up goldfish crackers and try to track down the last few kids who didn’t pick up their felt rendition of an ark…so that’s a positive as well. 

So without further ado, here is the 2020 version of AVBSWTG&G (Adult Vacation Bible School Without the Glue and Glitter)

This week our theme will center on how God is not surprised by 2020 and how we can find help to cope in His Word.

Day 3

This morning’s portion of the annual Bible read-through was the book of Lamentations. I read the introductory material first and used a large amount of ink writing “so 2020” in the margin. I had just received a text from our sister-in-law in Minnesota with news of 1/3 of the fields in Iowa being flattened by the winds earlier this week. I watched the news video and was shocked at the damage. 

Our daughter texted their school’s plan for what remote learning will look like in two weeks and basically they would be housebound from 7:30 AM until 2:30 PM every day. While she tries to keep two grade school boys seated in front of a computer for various sessions throughout the day, she also has a three year old and almost five year old to herd. Stuck. At home. And works part time. 

The looting again in Chicago, the devastation in North Carolina, continued revelations of inequality and oppression based on race, political tensions, the explosion in Beirut, prayer requests for so many needs; and all in the midst of a pandemic are overwhelming. Grief for loss of lives and grief for loss of the way we lived our lives is real. 

So the words of the commentary that opens Lamentations in my Bible hit home. 

Lamentations reflects a heart that is processing immense devastation, and it gives us permission to bring our sorrow to God, who can take the chaos of tragedy and lead us to a place of wholeness and restoration.

Commentary Lamentations CSB (in)Courage devotional Bible, Holman Bibles, Denise J. Hughs, editor

Those words were so beautiful and comforting to my soul this morning. We are in a state of grief. I am thankful for the humor of some that helps break the tension from time to time, but then it is back into the trenches for another blast of artillery. 

And in these times, it is tempting to complain and rise up with rhetoric. We want someone to blame, we want to try and figure out solutions and we want to have the way we see it to be the way it goes. But the problem is no two people see all of it the same way and as we push and shove against one another, we create even more chaos in the storm. 

In the book of Lamentations, the people of God were suddenly paying the piper, so to speak. After all the warnings, they had not turned back to God and now they watched the devastation play out exactly the way that Jeremiah and so many prophets had told them it would. 

Suddenly they understood the cost of apostasy and the sin of idolatry that had separated them from God and brought literal death, and worse, to the people and the city. Because there were worse things than death at that moment.

The Temple and walls of their city were burning around them, in hunger they were eating their children, their women were being raped in the streets and the men and youth were being slaughtered or captured and carted off. 

Lamentations is a set of successive poems that express the intense grief as this chosen people realized they had forced the Mighty Hand of God’s protection away and He was allowing them to reap what they had sown. The study notes point out that Jerusalem sat on a wide and open and very high plateau, surrounded by high walls of security. It was nearly impossible to penetrate, but without God’s protection, the enemy did so and quite effectively. 

Another quote from my reading this morning speaks so much into our times: 

In Lamentations is a much-needed reminder of who we can turn to when our world has been turned upside-down.

Commentary Lamentations CSB (in)Courage devotional Bible, Holman Bibles, Denise J. Hughs, editor

This makes me pause and catch my breath. How many times have you and I read or heard or said in the last six months that the world has turned upside-down?

I will say what I always say about Scripture. God’s Word is relevant to the times we live in. It is not out of touch or dated. It is eternal. So what can we dig out of the book of Lamentations today to grow in wisdom in how to live with the grief of 2020?

Here are some of my thoughts:

Lamentations 2: 19 says to wake up in the night and cry out. Have you had trouble sleeping during these past few months? Perhaps that is your call to heed the rest of this verse

…pour out your heart like water before the Lord’s presence. Lift up you hands to him for the lives of your children who are fainting from hunger at the head of every street. 

Lamentations 2:19 CSB

Sure your pantry may be stocked from your most recent grocery store run or pickup, but our children are soul hungry and spirit hungry. They are frightened and socially isolated. Pray for them.

Lamentations 3: 19-24 is a cry for God to notice the affliction that is on us. He talks about affliction and loneliness. Isn’t that the hallmark of this Covid lock-down mode? The author acknowledges a kind of depression that has over taken him and then he gives the antidote:

Yet I call this to mind, and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD’s faithful love we do not perish, for his mercies never end. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness! I say, “the LORD is my portion, therefore I will put my hope in him.”

Lamentations 3: 19-24

We need to exercise our faith muscles even as we grieve. As we are feeling overwhelmed or thinking of what we thought certain things would look like, the sorrow needs to be acknowledged and expressed but then we land on HOPE. 

The last portion I want to cover is just after this and admonishes us to sit and wait quietly for the LORD to come. I feel strongly that the majority of what we are saying out loud to the world should come only after we have poured out our hearts to God and waited for His word to penetrate our brokenness and then speak declarations of His Sovereignty, His faithfulness, His mercies. 

The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the person who seeks him. It is good to sit quietly for salvation from the LORD. It is good for man to bear the yoke while he is still young. Let him sit alone and be silent, for God has disciplined him.

Lamentations 3: 25-28 CSB

For our activity, think about the way His mercies are new every morning and what that means to you.

We have a battery operated candle in a lantern that was gifted to us when we moved in our new home. It sits in the dining room and I have the timer set to turn on each evening around sunset.

The concept of sundown as the start of a new day in Jewish culture is fascinating to me. I have been programmed to think of sunrise as the start of day and I have to challenge my linear brain to grasp this new time frame. 

The lighting of the candle is significant to me because it marks the end of this day and subsequent beginning of the new. Today I thought of how we sometimes fret through the night waiting for morning light when our problems seem more easily dealt with. 

But today in this passage it dawned on me…pun intended…that as the darkness settles on our home, God’s new mercies are rushing in to give me hope after the day’s work. 

Perhaps you could think of something you do at the end of each day that could signal a reminder for you that your Hope is in the Lord. Something that will make you declare over your home that His mercies are starting new right now.

God bless you and I will see you tomorrow. 

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