Lenten Reflection Day 45: Forsaken?


Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani? by Valeriy Yukhymov

The Day’s Scripture

Psalm 22:1-8

1My 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.
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.
But I am a worm and not a man,
    scorned by everyone, despised by the people.
All who see me mock me;
    they hurl insults, shaking their heads.
“He trusts in the Lord,” they say,
    “let the Lord rescue him.
Let him deliver him,
    since he delights in him.”

Reflection

At about 3 in the afternoon, the Gospel of Matthew relays, Jesus cried out in a loud voice :  “Eli, Eli,  lema sabachthani?”  (My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?)  Jesus cries out in the voice of the Psalmist liturgy.  A second time he cries and then gives his life up.  Relational trust is the currency of the Kingdom of God, and in Psalm 22 we see this trust stretched by extreme suffering and persecution.  There is a deep doubt and abandonment embedded in the circumstances—the intolerable anguish behind the “why?” 

And yet, the “yet” of verse 3 demonstrates the resiliency of the trusting recalling the faithfulness of God in the story of His people:  you delivered them . . . and we were saved; in you they trusted and were not put to shame. 
But once again the “but” of verse 6 turns the current of the tension back to doubt and suffering and the court of public opinion:  but I am a worm and not a man, scorned by everyone, despised by the people. 

On this Good Friday, God’s people sit in the tension of the why and yet and but.  You have suffered.  You have felt abandoned.  You have been made to feel not human. You may be waiting now in the silence of God and the overwhelming burden of circumstance, left with no other recourse but to cry out in anguish.  God has not forsaken us.  God is with us.  God is with you.  The day is “good” not because it’s Friday, but because Sunday’s comin’.

It’s Friday . . . But Sunday’s a Coming!

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