Divine Abandonment (Psalm 22)


Psalm 22

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” were some of the words Jesus cried from the cross (Matthew 27:46).

It is easy to look up to God, when our lives are filled with gladness. But, what about those times when we are at the absolute end of our robe, like life is ebbing away (cp. Job 30:16)? When prayers seem to go unanswered (cp. Job 30:20)? When we seem to suffer at no fault of our own (cp. Job 29:11-17; 30:1)?

David, who wrote Psalm 22, went through such a time. He was at the end of his rope. He cried out to God day and night, but there was no answer. On the one hand, he knew God’s faithfulness; he knew that God acted on behalf of his ancestors when they cried out to him. But, on the other hand, David received no relief from his persecutors. He is mocked; his provokers taunt him. He had known God since his earliest days, but now he feels all alone. Yet, still he cranes his eyes to the heavens and offers a desolate cry to the one who seems so far away, saying, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Psalm 22:1-10)

Hundreds of years later, another man offers the same cry of desolation, at an even greater point of divine abandonment. For the last three years he has known intense temptation. Jesus had been obedient all his life (John 14:31). Through all opposition, Jesus trusted the Father (e.g. Matthew 26:63-68). But, now, at last, his greatest temptation comes. In a way that defies human comprehension, the Father turns his face away, and somehow in some way that eternal fellowship of the Trinity is broken for a brief moment in time. Yet, like the Psalmist, Jesus cries out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” while, Satan whispers something like, “Curse God and die (Job 2:9).”

Even in that moment of suffering, Jesus teaches us a lesson. There will be times when God will seem far away. During such times, we may justify our self-pity. But, Jesus gives us a lesson. Turn your eyes to him; grab hold of him. For Jesus did not come to this world as a casual observer; he came to experience every pain and temptation we experience (Hebrews 4:15; 12:2). Let us in such moments, in his strength and his certainty, not ours, look up to him, grab hold of him, and have the faith to utter, “My God.”

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