My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?
~ Psalm 22:1
Ever had one of those moments when life just hits you right upside the head? Where something bad happens. I mean really bad. To make things worse, it is out of your control. There is no way to make things better. Life closes in and it becomes hard to even breathe, nonetheless function normal. Maybe it was a death, a divorce, a substantial loss. Things don’t look like they will ever get better. This is where we ask God the tough questions. “Why God? Why have You forsaken me? Why have You allowed the worst to happen to me?”
Sometimes we believe we did something wrong to deserve such circumstances. If we did, we can repent and hope God will replace what was lost or at least ensure we never make that mistake again. But that is not always the case. There are situations where we did absolutely nothing to deserve the bad in our life.
Sometimes we want to blame others for the bad things that happen, but there are times when no one is really at fault. We still have the urge to understand why bad things happens, then maybe we can control them better. We can’t, but we know God can. He could,but sometimes He allows the worst to happen: a murder, a rape, a premature death, a mistake. Horrible circumstances that will leave even the mountain-moving-faith-holders to look to the heavens and cry out to God, “WHY? God why have You forsaken me?”
This article by no means can answer that question nor does it attempt to. Some questions will go unanswered until Jesus comes back; some wounds may not be completely healed until then, too. Yet in all our brokenness, I do know Christ shines through the cracks. No matter how much bad goes on in the world, God is still good.
Psalm 100:5 reminds us “For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” (NIV)
I may not understand all He does or allows, or how it fits into His eternal plan, but I do know He is good, loving, and true. He is the God I want walking me through all the circumstances that stifle my breathing and cause my heart to stop for a moment.
King David of the Bible knew this God, even in his darkest hour when he faced the threat of losing his life. In Psalm 23:4 he says “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
While Jesus was being persecuted on the cross He “cried with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?’ that is to say, ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’” (Matthew 27:46 KJV)
Jesus here is not necessarily proposing a question to God. He is actually reciting the beginning of a Psalm. Those in His presence would know that He was referring to Psalm 22 in its entirety.
For example, finish the following statements:
Birds of a feather . . . . .
If you can’t stand the heat . . . . .
Like father, . . . . .
What goes around . . . . .
When it rains . . . . .
The bigger they are . . . . .
By only saying the beginning of the statement, the ending is implied and the meaning of the partial statement is understood in full without me completing it.
This is what Jesus was doing on the cross. He was communicating the entire message of Psalm 22. It reads:
1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from the words of my groaning?
2 O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, and am not silent.
3 Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
you are the praise of Israel.
4 In you our fathers put their trust;
they trusted and you delivered them.
5 They cried to you and were saved;
in you they trusted and were not disappointed.
6 But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by men and despised by the people.
7 All who see me mock me;
they hurl insults, shaking their heads:
8 “He trusts in the Lord;
let the Lord rescue him.
Let him deliver him,since he delights in him.”
9 Yet you brought me out of the womb;
you made me trust in you
even at my mother’s breast.
10 From birth I was cast upon you;
from my mother’s womb you have been my God.
11 Do not be far from me,
for trouble is near
and there is no one to help.
12 Many bulls surround me;
strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.
13 Roaring lions tearing their prey
open their mouths wide against me.
14 I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has turned to wax;
it has melted away within me.
15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
you lay me in the dust of death.
16 Dogs have surrounded me;
a band of evil men has encircled me,
they have pierced my hands and my feet.
17 I can count all my bones;
people stare and gloat over me.
18 They divide my garments among them
and cast lots for my clothing.
19 But you, O Lord, be not far off;
O my Strength, come quickly to help me.
20 Deliver my life from the sword,
my precious life from the power of the dogs.
21 Rescue me from the mouth of the lions;
save me from the horns of the wild oxen.
22 I will declare your name to my brothers;
in the congregation I will praise you.
23 You who fear the Lord, praise him!
All you descendants of Jacob, honor him!
Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!
24 For he has not despised or disdained
the suffering of the afflicted one;
he has not hidden his face from him,
but has listened to his cry for help.
25 From you comes the theme of my praise
in the great assembly;
before those who fear you will I fulfill my vows.
26 The poor will eat and be satisfied;
they who seek the Lord will praise him
may your hearts live forever!
27 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,
28 for dominion belongs to the Lord
and he rules over the nations.
29 All the rich of the earth will feast and worship;
all who go down to the dust will kneel before him
those who cannot keep themselves alive.
30 Posterity will serve him;
future generations will be told about the Lord.
31 They will proclaim his righteousness
to a people yet unborn
for he has done it.
Psalm 22 shows Jesus’ faith in the Father even in the face of persecution. In His darkest hour He remembered that God was still God. Jesus knew God was greater than our deepest pain, our worst letdown, or most powerful stronghold. Jesus Knew:
God is greater than your healing, He is the Healer,
He is greater than the delivery, He is the deliverer,
He is greater than your fear, He is love.
He is greater than your enemy, He is God over all,
He is greater than the destruction on your life, He is the Creator,
He is greater than your loss, He is the giver,
He is greater than your sin. He is Eternal life!
Jesus knew His circumstance did not change who God was.
In your dark hour remember: God is still God. He is not defined by the bad things that happen; He is God alone. And He is a good, loving, caring, faithful, all powerful, all knowing God. The kind of God who will be right there with you through the valley. When I’m walking through that valley, He is definitely the One I want by my side. How about you?
© Christina Patterson 2015
Christina Patterson is a follower of Christ, wife and mother who has a passion to encourage women in the love of Jesus Christ and the truth of God’s Word.
Learn more at www.belovedwomen.org