My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? – Psalm 22:1
Have there ever been any words written or spoken more heartbreaking than these?
Anyone on an intentional faith journey has likely experienced the complete inner darkness and utter devastation of which these words speak.
I know I have.
It is the most sorrowful and painful of human experiences, as it shatters everything: our sense of self, our sense of belonging, our sense of being held and protected in the hand of a loving deity.
Whether these words arise out of the death of a loved one, the crumbling of a family, the loss of a job, a serious health issue, or any matter over which we have no control, the emptiness we feel is profound.
And yet, even Jesus himself uttered these words on the cross.
As God made man, Jesus experienced every human emotion through his incarnation.
That is part of the reason he came to Earth: to experience the human condition for himself.
He also came to teach us how to live and love as God lives and loves. Even for those who consider Jesus their savior, their behavior still matters. Trusting Jesus is who he says he is does not give us a “get out of jail free” card in terms of how we behave and interact with all sentient beings. We are still expected to live by the two greatest commandments: to love God with our whole being, and to love our neighbors as ourselves.
Jesus took on the form of a man, so he could understand the darkness which drives us sometimes to do and say awfully destructive things, and to bear the weight of all of the consequences of those actions for himself.
When I think about the many of my own life experiences that have been painful, either from being on the receiving end of them, or having inflicted them on others, and then multiply that by the unique life story of every human that ever existed … it is beyond the scope of human intelligence and consciousness to comprehend the enormity of it all.
And to grasp just how heavy, indeed, was that cross he bore.
We live in a time of great fear and uncertainty, a time of rampant human sin and destruction. It is highly probable that many walking the journey of faith these days, experience this sense of God’s abandonment on a regular basis. (Here is a secret: God does not abandon us, ever. If he did, we would cease to exist, as he is the ground of our being, that in which we live and move and have our being. Even though utter darkness might envelop us, the God of Love always walks with us. Always.)
In these chaotic times, we wonder, when will the insanity EVER stop?
I am writing this on Good Friday 2022.
At this time in human history, we have the advantage of hindsight. We know how the story ends. That inexhaustible devastation and abandonment Christ felt on the cross will, in just a few days, transform into the promise of resurrection.
The promise of new life.
In my own experiences of feeling as though God had abandoned me, there have always been spiritual rebirths that have followed. And those rebirths have borne circumstances that were better than what I had left behind.
The devastation in the words “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me,” without fail, turn into eternal words of promise and glory:
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. – John 1:5
- SPIRIT MATTERS is a weekly column that examines spirituality. Contact Jerrilyn Zavada at firstname.lastname@example.org to share how you engage your spirit in your life and community.