I have spent parts of this year buried under the mountain of sorrow. I have said more goodbyes than I wanted. I have become more closely acquainted with my Kleenex box. I have wondered what God was up to. While I did not doubt His presence, I have wondered how He could be working in the situations which have brought tears to my eyes.
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish? My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest. Psalm 22:1, 2 (NIV)
God, God . . . my God! Why did you dump me miles from nowhere? Doubled up with pain, I call to God all the day long. No answer. Nothing. I keep at it all night, tossing and turning. Psalm 22:1, 2 (MSG)
I am not the only one who has wondered. Psalm 22 contains the prophetic words that Jesus uttered as He was on the cross. While I have wondered about and looked for Jesus presence in the midst of my sorrow, Jesus felt and endured the abandonment of having God the Father turn His back on Him. I cannot even fathom how that stung. I cannot understand how much that hurt.
I know the pain of a severed friendship, but God turning his back on Jesus – that was more than friendship. Their relationship has existed from eternity. They were completely one. Jesus the Son was the supreme sacrifice. He left the glory and beauty of heaven to come to earth as a tiny baby. His status changed from all powerful to a completely dependent infant. He was fully God and fully man simultaneously. God clothed in the skin of humanity. He grew in wisdom, stature and favour with God and man (Luke 2:52) And those who needed Him most completely rejected Him because He did not fit their image of a political Messiah. He came to make all things new. To establish a new relationship between God and people. It was an expensive sacrifice. His life paying the penalty of my sin. Sorrow seems to win. Death seems to conquer all.
Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the one Israel praises. In you our ancestors put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them. To you they cried out and were saved; in you they trusted and were not put to shame. Psalm 22:3-5 (NIV)
And you! Are you indifferent, above it all, leaning back on the cushions of Israel’s praise? We know you were there for our parents: they cried for your help and you gave it; they trusted and lived a good life. Psalm 22:3-5 (MSG)
But death does not have the final word. All seems lost. Tears flow. Jesus death seems like the final stroke of ultimate defeat. Thank you Jesus, the story does not end there.
When I am discouraged and feeling abandoned, it is easy to whip the throne out from behind God and accuse Him of not doing His part. He has not come through for me. He may not have responded in the way that I thought He should have. The prayer wasn’t answered how I would like, therefore He is not holding up His end of the bargain.
Then my memory is in desperate need of a refresher course. I crave the stories and lessons from my own life and the lives of others where God has provided. The times where He has shown up in powerful ways. Where the journey has seemed tenuous but God has brought us through. Where it seems as though all was lost, but His presence has been constant. Where He has not answered the way that we would have wished, but He is with us and therefore we can praise Him. We choose to praise Him!
My Jesus, is the risen King of Kings! He spent time in the tomb. He knows how I live in a perpetual state of “Saturday.” Not the despair of Good Friday or the joy of Easter Sunday but the lingering wanderings and wonderings of the day in between. But He rose again! A stone, the power of earth’s rulers and military might were no match for the power of Jesus. He sits today in the seat of power at the Father’s right hand.
Therefore, regardless of my feelings or impressions, I am not abandoned. My God goes before me and so I choose to sing.