Let’s return to the “Why” question in the Bible that is probably the most troubling one to many who seek God and to many who are trying to follow Jesus the best we know how. It first occurs in Psalm 22:1 and then again in Mark 15:34—“And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?’ which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’” Both the Psalmist, and Jesus, profess life-long trusting in God as well as life-long participation in the faith of those Jewish believers who preceded them. And yet, both the Psalmist, and Jesus, experience the terror of not experiencing God at all when God’s presence is most wanted and the felt-need is the deepest.
No wonder the prayer coming from Jesus’ mouth is so often explained away rather than faced squarely. Jesus, the most trusting and most trustworthy human who ever lived experiences being abandoned by God when he most wants to be reassured of God’s presence! Ouch! What hope then is there for a person like me—or you?
Think about each word in the phrase. “My”—Jesus is still talking directly to God and claiming God as his God. “God”—the one who is supposed to be in charge of history and overseeing our lives during troubled times. “Why?”—this experience just doesn’t seem to make sense to these two faithful Jewish believers. “Have”—present tense, this is a deeply felt “right now” experience. “You”—of all my relationships, “you” were the one I thought would always be there when I most needed you. “Forsaken”—abandonment by those you love and by those who love you is one of the deepest wounds we humans can experience. “Me?”—the Psalmist, and especially Jesus, rightly wonder how this can happen to someone who trusts God so much! It seems that even though Jesus clearly saw the cross coming, he did not expect this experience of feeling totally abandoned. It is very real, and it is really hurting. “Why?”
As Paul Harvey used to say so dramatically—“And, now for the rest of the story . . . .” – next time.