People Who Say Such Things: The Hardest Words in the Hardest Times

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February 4, 2020

Matthew 27:46 (NIV)

About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).

CONSIDER THIS

Let’s kick this series off with a bang. I don’t understand it, but I believe the Holy Spirit is impressing me to begin here:

About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).

People who say such things . . . 

Hmm. We see these words the first time in the twenty second Psalm, from the mouth of David, the man after God’s own heart.  

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Who says this? Only everybody who has ever lived—from the fifteen year old whose girlfriend just abandoned him for another suitor to the terminal breast cancer patient in room #204—the felt-ness of forsakenness by God is a very human reality. Though people in the grip of loss or the jaws of death have others close around them, they feel forsaken by God, because only God could have changed the awful outcome they suffer. Whether they believe in God or not and whether their lung cancer is from smoking two packs a day for forty years, they hope (if not expect) God to do something. So in once sense, every kind of person, at one time or another, says such a thing as, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.”

There is a second group of people, though, who say such things. These are the particular people who have abandoned their life to God in an extraordinary way. You have followed Jesus all the way there and back. You are people after God’s own heart; poor in spirit, strong in faith, meek, humble, courageous, generous; all of that and more. Through some turn of events and clash of circumstances you find yourself feeling forsaken by God. It’s not turning out like you thought. The chemo is not working. They don’t want you as their leader any longer. The marriage failed. The depression is not lifting. You never gave up on God, but it sure feels like God has given up on you. 

About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).

People who say such things are Jesus’ people. These people keep it real. You refuse to put a fresh coat of paint on a rotten piece of furniture. You understand that though your feelings may deceive you, your situation is real and cannot be denied. You understand the importance of crying out, as the text says, “in a loud voice.”  

About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).

Because you know God, you know God can handle your dissonance. In fact, you know God would rather you be real about your dissonance than stuff it into the recesses of your soul. People who say such things are way deep into the deal—so deep they know there is no deal—only a promise: “I will be with you always, even to the end of the age,” (Matthew 28:20) which means through it all, no matter what.

You know it will not always seem like he is with you, even to the point of feeling forsaken, because the one who made the promise not to forsake us was the one who felt the most forsaken. All of this is because people who say such things know one thing is a matter of settled doctrine: 

On the other side of the Cross is the Resurrection. Psalm 22 fittingly closes with these words: “He has done it!” 

It’s why you are one of these kind of people who say such things. 

THE PRAYER

Father, at any given moment I know it’s going to be me or someone I know or someone I know about who is feeling forsaken by you. Give me the grace to have and hold this very real feeling, and the grace to let others hold it. In fact, show me what it looks like to hold them just where they are and to resist the need I may have to comfort them with some truthful platitude that is less then helpful. We all know you never leave or forsake us yet sometimes it’s in your felt absence that we learn to cry out in a loud voice which leads us further into your presence than we would ever have known apart from feeling forsaken. Come Holy Spirit, and train me be one of these kind of people. I pray in Jesus name, Amen. 

THE QUESTION

Do you have a “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me” story? How did it go? Have you told it? (Consider joining and sharing with our very active and very encouraging Daily Text FaceBook Group.)

P.S. O.K. Sowers, only a few more days of the SOWERS SPECIAL on the First Word—Last Word—God’s Word book. Purchase 5 copies and get them and as many more as you like at 50% off. Sharing a copy with a colleague, friend or family member is a perfect way to invite them into our Daily Text Community. I will include such an invitation in the book—as well as an explicit invitation to follow Jesus. 

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt
Sower-in-Chief
seedbed.com

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