On Feeling Forsaken (Psalm 22)
Reading: Psalm 22
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
When we’re suffering, it often feels like we’ve been forsaken by God. We know that God has the power to act, to change our circumstances. God need only speak and the cancer would be healed. And when the suffering is great and he doesn’t act, we feel abandoned. We wonder, where are you, God?
We do not have a Lord that cannot identify with us. Jesus himself cried out to God using this psalm. He did so from the cross on which he was executed. He knows what it’s like to suffer unjustly and to be forsaken and abandoned. He has felt our pain. He has lived it.
But the difference between us and Jesus is that he was in fact abandoned by God. On the cross, the Father turned his face away from his Son as the wrath of God was poured out. Jesus suffered under the curse that was meant for us. He was forsaken by the Father in our place.
And that’s significant because, if Jesus suffered our punishment, then we will not have to suffer it. In fact, because he was abandoned on the cross, we can be sure that we never will be. God may leave us to ourselves for a time or ask us to endure suffering of various intensities, but he will never abandon us or forsake us because of what Jesus has done on our behalf. Because he was cast out, we receive welcome.
Though it often feels like we have been abandoned by God in our suffering, we must remember that because of what Jesus has done for us, that can never be true in an ultimate way. Our life with God is secure, and he will rescue us from all our enemies, even death itself. “For he must reign until he has put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death” (1 Corinthians 15:25-26).
Father, our cries are earnest. It feels so often like you don’t care or like you’re not there. When we’re suffering, we just want you t make it stop—and we know you can! And so often our suffering doesn’t make any sense to us. Please forgive our lack of faith. And teach us to trust you even in the darkest of valleys. Have mercy, and remind us of how you’ve loved us in Jesus.