God, dead children, and blame
The words begin by ascribing anger and destruction to God and they go on to describe the most pitiful deaths of infants and children.
They faint away like the wounded
in the streets of the city,
And breathe their last
in their mothers’ arms.
The blame for the deaths of these children lies fully at the feet of their nation’s leaders who forsook both prudence and faithfulness, leading to the destruction of Jerusalem and the ravaging of the land by the armies of Babylon.
Such stupidity, irresponsibility, and disrespect would make anyone angry, even God, as this reading reminds us (although the wrath of an infinitely just and merciful God should not be confused with the wrath of human beings).
The inspired writer also knew that it was the army of Babylon that physically tore down Judah’s fortresses, but he also knew (and so he writes) that God let all of it happen: both the stupidity and the resulting destruction.
Why did God let it happen? Why did he let these children die because of the sins and geopolitical blunders of their parents and their leaders?
The obvious answer – because of his gift of free will – may not feel comforting or at all satisfactory, even though it is true.
The ultimate answer, the full answer, the comforting answer can only be found in the infinite will and wisdom and love of God.
Sinful and finite, our taking the path to that wisdom and the embracing of that will may sometimes be hard, even with God’s grace, but it is the only way that leads to peace and to the recognition of the infinite good that may be found beyond all tears.
Pour out your heart like water
in the presence of the Lord...
Lord Jesus Christ, son of the living God, be merciful to me – a sinner.