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Feeling the Forsaken Lift

February 27, 2013

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“My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?”

I used to read this in my skeptical days and weep, I’d actually become frustrated and irate. It made me an unbeliever. I would yell at God, “Yea, what the fudge, God! Why did you let this happen? He is Jesus for crying out loud, the prodigal SON! Why did he feel forsaken? You were supposed to look out for him, ease his pain a little bit.” I didn’t understand why he had to suffer so badly, and on top of that, he felt forsaken. I was pissed.

Now, as an investigator into my faith, some of these pieces that I never understood start to fall into place. And that’s no accident, I incessantly pray for better understanding of the Bible. Especially lately, since I’m diving in head first into my Bible study again. My desire for knowledge comes in waves, it’s like my body craves information and then needs a break to process it all. Then I put things on the back burner until I’ve gotten myself into a spiritual sloth like state of mind. Then the study comes back in full force.

Instead of feeling abandoned by God, I now believe Jesus was reciting the first line from a popular poem from Psalms, written by King David. Psalm 22 is a prayer, an amazing and layered prayer to comfort those in despair, because it ends with praising God. Then the fascinating part of this Psalm, King David (probably unknowingly) prophesied the death of Jesus during it.

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.”

Jesus must have read this Psalm many many times is his years on Earth, as a scholar. He also had to know that those around him knew the Psalm just as well, and its accurate prophesy qualities. PLUS, he was in excruciating pain, blood loss, breathing became difficult, and it probably felt good to yell about being forsaken. But in his mind, I like to think Jesus was declaring; “19 But you, oh Lord, be not far off; O my strength, come quickly to help me.” And “praise Him” — “for he has done it.”

Sometimes I feel like I could say these things at the beginning of this prayer to God. I know I’ve asked the same question, “why aren’t you listening.” But then I feel it, light is cast on my issues, and I feel this love, unyielding love, pouring into my core. I feel understanding, as if i know what to read, filtering into my brain.

The only ones of us that are forsaken by God are those of us who won’t wait around a little bit, wait around and open your heart so that you can feel.

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