Not Forsaken

I will declare your name to my people; in the assembly I will praise you.

You who fear the Lord, praise him! All you descendants of Jacob, honor him! Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!

For he has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.

 

The poor will eat and be satisfied; those who seek the Lord will praise him – may your hearts live forever!

All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him, for dominion belongs to the Lord and he rules over the nations. Psalm 22:23-24, 26-28. NIV

 

The gospels report that Jesus, as he was dying on the cross, shouted out the words “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” To reinforce that these were the actual words of Jesus, Mark quotes Jesus in Aramaic, Jesus’ native language, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”

 

Theologians and preachers have puzzled over the significance of these words. Was Jesus, the Son of God, really abandoned by God in those moments of suffering? Was he merely giving into his human emotions of fear and distress? Elaborate theological explanations are proposed to explain how God the Father turned away from the Son in that moment.

 

But the explanation for Jesus’ words here is simple. Jesus, in his greatest moment of despair and pain, cried out to God in the words of a Psalm. In that moment, Jesus was finding help to endure his suffering in the scriptures. He quoted the opening verse of Psalm 22. As he did this, he not only found strength for himself, he modeled how we too should find strength from the promises of God in the Bible. When our fears and confusion and pain are great, God’s word is courage and wisdom and healing.

 

Jesus quoted the opening verse of the Psalm, but he certainly knew that the writer of that Psalm did not stop with the question. He was crying out as he suffered great distress, but he concludes with a powerful proclamation of the goodness of God and the triumph of God’s plan. The verses quoted above are some of the later verses of Psalm 22. These show how the Psalm writer, beginning with the desperate question, still sees that God is trustworthy. He finds strength in that promise.

 

As did Jesus. As will we, if we allow God to turn our desperation into praise.

 

For he has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.

 

Love in Christ,

Greg Burriss

Pastor, Rocky River Baptist Church

 

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One thought on “Not Forsaken

  1. Pingback: Take courage | daily meditation

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