“My, God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”~ Matthew 27: 46
It is sometimes easy to fall into the trap of thinking that true faith means we never have doubts, we are never angry with God or never feel a sense of abandonment- that true faith will never be tested.
Yet, the reality is, we are all going to have moments where our faith is tested.
Where we don’t feel God’s presence, don’t experience His love, don’t understand…
why would He let us suffer?
Faith is organic and messy. We look around and see the death, economic crises, and evils in the world and wonder,
“Why God, why have you abandoned us?”
Can Jesus Relate?
There is no place else in the Bible that Jesus’ humanity shows in such a raw way as when he is dying on the cross.
It is a heart rending cry of brokenness.
Even though He is one with the Father, He too feels that dark night of the soul. That feeling that God is not present.
He too relates to us in our spiritual and emotional sufferings as well as our physical ones.
He took the weight of our sins upon the cross, and so also feels the abandonment, the separation from God that we feel.
He became like us in everything but sin.
Is Jesus Really Making A Cry of Praise and Trust?
‘My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Why so far from my call for help, from my cries of anguish? My God, I call by day, but you do not answer; by night, but I have no relief. Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the glory of Israel. In you our fathers trusted; they trusted and you rescued them. To you they cried out and they escaped; in you they trusted and were not disappointed. But I am a worm, not a man, scorned by med, despised by the people. All who see me mock me; they curl their lips and jeer; they shake their heads at me: “He relied on the Lord – let him deliver him; if he loves him rescue him.” For you drew me forth from the womb, made me feel safe at my mother’s breasts. Upon you I was thrust from the womb; since my mother bore me you are my God. Do not stay far from me, for trouble is near, and there is no one to help. Many bulls surround me; fierce bulls of Bashan encircle me. They opened their mouths against me, lions that rend and roar. Like water my life drains away; all my bones are disjointed. My heart has become like wax, it melts away within me, As dry as a potsherd is my throat; my tongue cleaves to my palate; you lay me in the dust of death. Dogs surround me; a pack of evildoers closes in on me. They have pierced my hands and my feet I can count all my bones. They stare at me and gloat; they divide my garments among them; for my clothing they cast lots. But you, Lord, do not stay far off; my strength, come quickly to help me. Deliver my soul from the sword, my life from the grip of the dog. Save me from the lion’s mouth, my poor life from the horns of wild bulls. Then I will proclaim your name to my brethren; “You who fear the Lord, give praise! All descendants of Jacob, give honor, show reverence, all descendants of Israel! For he has not spurned or disdained the misery of this poor wretch, Did not turn away from me, but heard me when I cried out. I will offer praise in the great assembly; my vows I will fulfill before those who fear him. The poor will eat their fill; those who seek the Lord will offer praise. May your hearts enjoy life forever!” All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord; All the families of nations will bow low before him. For kingship belongs to the Lord, the ruler over the nations. All who sleep in the earth will bow low before God; All who have gone down in to the dust will kneel in homage. And I will live for the Lord; my descendants will serve you. The generation to come will be told of the Lord, that they may proclaim to a people yet unborn the deliverance you have brought.’~ Psalm 22
In a general audience on September 14, 2011, Pope Benedict XVI discusses this Psalm which Jesus quotes on the cross and says:
“Forsaken by almost all his followers, betrayed and denied by the disciples, surrounded by people who insult him, Jesus is under the crushing weight of a mission that was to pass through humiliation and annihilation. This is why he cried out to the Father, and his suffering took up the sorrowful words of the Psalm. But his is not a desperate cry, nor was that of the Psalmist who, in his supplication, takes a tormented path which nevertheless opens out at last into a perspective of praise, into trust in the divine victory.”
Pope Benedict talks about how Jesus’ cry is not a cry of desperation, but one of trust, hope and praise in suffering! It is a cry of confidence that despite what it seems like on the outside, and what it may feel like in the inside, God is with us! God will save us! God will conquer death!
This is the message we need to hear today.
That even in the midst of incredible suffering, loneliness, hurt and death; we can have faith that God does save and will rise us up again. Even when we are not feeling it, we can believe in the power of the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
As I reflect on Jesus’ cross and resurrection today, I also remember and pray for all those suffering. Those who have lost their jobs and have no means of providing for themselves. Those who are suffering incredible pain. Those who are suffering and dying alone. Those who are lonely and depressed. Those anxious, fearful and stressed. Those who are hungry and cold. Those who feel they have been abandoned by God.
I pray that the sufferings of Jesus give them hope and comfort, and that they may have faith in God’s presence who is with them – even if they cannot feel it; that the kindness of humanity help to relieve their sufferings; that they may experience the resurrection from their crosses.
Alleluia! He is Risen!
Above photo taken by: Gerd Altmann
Used with permission