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the parish noticeboard — 4 On reflection . . . Lamentations By Elizabeth Spiers An ancient map ofJerusalem Mihail Ivanov, dreamstime.com Lamentations is not an easy read. Perhaps you’ve been tempted to skip it. It’s about the aftermath of a national disaster caused by sin. Thought to be written by Jeremiah, it laments — gives passionate expression to sorrow or grief — the devastating results of God’s judgement. In five poems, Jeremiah tells of the complete and utter desolation of the once proud city of Jerusalem. This didn’t come out of the blue. God isn’t like that. He sent many prophets, including Jeremiah, with messages to warn the people to repent but the warnings fell on deaf ears. Now that it had happened, the results of God’s judgement were raw and desperate. It is shocking to read in chapter 4:10 that mothers were so hungry they ate their own children. <strong>The</strong> important message of Lamentations is that we cannot keep disobeying God and his word and think that God will ignore it. It is right to grieve over the sin that has wrecked havoc in our lives resulting in a broken home perhaps or a prison sentence. We don’t do much lamenting these days but this book shows us that we must take responsibility for the consequences we are now enduring. We know God is merciful and gracious. We often overlook that he is also righteous and holy, wanting obedience from his children and reserving the right to discipline us when we go astray. In Ezekiel 34:14, God says he is a ‘jealous’ God. We are not to worship anyone or anything other than him. LEARN TO TRUST In the middle of his lamentations, Jeremiah finds the strength of hope in the Lord. 'Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. <strong>The</strong>y are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, '<strong>The</strong> Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.' <strong>The</strong> Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him (Lamentations 3:22–25). Jeremiah tells us how to pray with hope in the midst of our self-induced suffering. He clings to the truth that regardless of the suffering he sees around him, God is still on his throne and that he still loves his people. We always have hope in God. Every new morning brings a new opportunity to start afresh. We are in control of our time and the decisions we make. We must learn to trust God while we still can’t see the way forward. And God’s mercies are new every morning. Great is his faithfulness toward those who cry out to him and seek him in their sorrows. He is the binder of broken hearts. He will never turn away anyone who cries out to him. From the desk of the editor email@example.com Why there is always space for God . . . <strong>The</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> <strong>Magazine</strong> - <strong>May</strong> <strong>2022</strong> 13 Sitting at my desk before starting work on this issue, I had in mind to include an article about sea creatures called manatees which look similar to the walrus but are more closely related to the elephant. <strong>The</strong>ir history goes back to the beginning of time and is mentioned in the Bible frequently in the account of the Israelite's journey from captivity in Egypt to their Promised Land. In the Bible manatees are called sea cows and their skins were used as waterproof coverings to protect valuable items used in the worship of God. We can only assume that the Israelites ate them — they are said to taste like 'corned beef' or 'pork', the latter being strange because pork is a forbidden food for the Jewish people. THE INSIDE STORIES However, as you can see inside, two other articles about creatures that were around in Biblical times and are also still with us today, namely hedgehogs (page 19) and sea turtles (page 25) have come to the top of the list, so the manatees idea remains on my desk! Hedgehogs and sea turtles, despite surviving for millions of years are facing uncertain futures because of environmental changes and hunting them for food or, in the case of turtles, their valuable shells. <strong>The</strong> organisers of World Turtle Day® on 23 <strong>May</strong>, say that about 61% of turtles worldwide are threatened or already extinct. <strong>The</strong>ir aim is to raise worldwide awareness of the situation and so try to save them from extinction. Hedgehogs, although good for our gardens, are facing a similar decline in numbers but in their case we can help reverse the decline by simply making our gardens and community more friendly, and safer, places for them to live in and to visit. THE WAY FORWARD Turtles and hedgehogs, are, of course, only two of the many serious issues facing our world which are being caused by human greed and selfishness. <strong>The</strong> war in Ukraine and the persecution of millions people because of their religious beliefs in other parts of the world are prime examples of even more serious issues. <strong>The</strong>re are so many bad things going on in our world today that is difficult to see where we are heading, and what will happen next. <strong>The</strong> good news is that despite all the changes going on around us, there is one unchanging source of hope that has been with us, not for millions of years like the hedgehogs and turtles but for about 4.5 billion years when the earth was created. That source is, of course, God. And this is why I never limit the number of articles about God's love for us in this magazine. As Elizabeth Spiers writes in the adjacent column, 'We must learn to trust God while we still can't see the way forward.'