“I called on your name, O Lord,
from the depths of the pit;
you heard my plea, ‘Do not close
to my cry for help, but give
You came near when I called
you said, ‘Do not fear!’
You have taken up my cause,
you have redeemed my life.” (vv. 55-58)
This is the darkest day of the church year, the greatest test of our faith. The man celebrated as the Messiah entered Jerusalem just six days ago, greeted greeted like royalty by throngs with palms, only to be betrayed, arrested, arraigned on trumped-up charges, and crucified to pacify a fickle mob. Now the fledgling movement he led with forgiveness and healing is bereft, leaderless, faced with teaching the gospel without a guide. They had been warned of this day, but none of the disciples could have been ready. His promised return must have seemed impossibly abstract after the tomb was shut. They were left only with prayer.
The poems of grief collected in Lamentations are harrowing expressions of anguish and loss after the destruction of the temple and Babylonian exile. These poems speak from “the pit” of utter isolation and give voice to a fearful gulf between God and his people. And yet, the mournful cry of the speaker in Lamentations is at once the cry of the disciples for their Lord’s resurrection. And their prayer is answered:
“Do not fear!”
They—and we—have been redeemed. Our Redeemer comes!
Hear our cry, Lord. Comfort us in our need. Renew our belief. Amen.