My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me?
No one exits this life unmarked by its storms, without stories of their scars. Indeed, it can be deduced with certainty, that it is our purpose to be tested –even as our Lord was allowed to be tested.
Lent, the season which casts the shadow of the Cross, gives pause to the meaning of suffering. The Passion and Death of our Innocent Lord, though incomprehensible, must yet be fathomed by faith before we can take hold of the Easter Promise.
Hanging on the Cross, Jesus bore the unmerited marks of the fiercest storm ever raged, the scars of the fiercest war ever waged. His All-Loving Father allowed him to be tested –to know torment. Even, to be swallowed by Death.
Jesus chose to suffer for us. Yes, he endured an expiatory suffering for our sins, but he also suffered so that we could suffer and not die, that we can suffer and find Life. Jesus has shown us the way –he has shown us how to suffer.
The Greatest Lie Ever Believed is that life should be free of suffering, that if God loves us, he would not permit such an unthinkable thing. Yet our perfect God, who perfectly loved his perfect Son, did just that.
Our perfect God, who perfectly loves us, spoke us into existence –knowing that in this temporary home, we must be tested, that we be found to have faith, to have become obedient, to have become a Believer. And the surest test of our faith is suffering. What better cause is there to renounce God, than suffering? What better cause is there to focus on Self, to abandon Hope, or to embrace Bitterness, than suffering?
Only Faith, impregnated by suffering, will unfailingly lead us to our Crucified Lord. And, if Faith is thus demanded, would not our Loving God, then, allow the suffering which makes it so fertile?
In our suffering, Satan would have us believe that we are forsaken by a God who does not love us. This temptation, this Satanic Belief, is the cause of all Unbelief. Jesus, who was like us in all ways but sin, experienced this demonic temptation, as life was draining out of his tortured and bloodied body.
The disciples he called friends had deserted him. His enemies, who so viciously brought him down, were mocking him. Pain ravaged his Body, Mind and Soul. All, as he hung naked and helpless before his mother. His dying words gave voice to what Satan was screaming into his spirit: My God, my God, why have your forsaken me?
This is how he felt, as Death’s Darkness was unveiled, as its gaping jaws swallowed the last light in his eyes. No human could have felt any different. But what he felt, did not define what he believed. In fact, these dying words of abandonment were the opening verse of Psalm 22 –a lamenting prayer that concludes with the Joyful confidence of certain Victory, of Resurrection foretold.
Jesus’ last words, were a favorite prayer of the downtrodden Jew familiar with suffering, and they were a fitting testament to their Savior King, the sacrificial Lamb of God.
Jesus, in my flesh I am weak, but in you, I am strong. In my suffering, I choose to set my eyes on you, the Seraph Raised, to join my pain to your Eternal Cross. My mind struggles to understand, but by the Power of your Holy Spirit, through the Blood of your Cross, I can believe -that my Father loves me, that he holds before me a future full of Hope, that no matter how I may feel, the Truth of Easter reigns. In the Shadow of your Cross is the Light of Life.