Although Psalm 22 starts with a desperate cry, it doesn’t end there. David concludes his Psalm acknowledging how God had, “not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one,” and had not “not hidden his face.” Rather God had, “listened to his cry for help” (Psalm 22:23-24).The Psalm ends with an acknowledgement of God’s love and faithfulness. So although the depth and darkness of rejection and separation that David and Jesus felt were real feelings, they were not accurate. The reality was in fact the opposite. God was not despising, not forsaking, not hiding his face, but bearing the pain with them. God was there all along, with them in their cries.
Although Jesus experienced the agonising pain of separation, he was never rejected by God. He experienced the darkness of despair, but God never let him go. After three days, God raised Jesus to life again vindicating his faithfulness.
The Bible isn’t full of nice easy answers about why there is suffering in the world. Jesus explodes the myth that the righteous do not suffer unjustly. He doesn’t give us a quick fix way of escaping suffering and death.
Even so, the Bible records God’s profound response. It is not philosophical or theological but ‘incarnational’. When Jesus cries, “my God, why have you forsaken me?” he enters into the depths of human experience. This is a profound mystery, for his death becomes our death, and his resurrection is our resurrection.
Jesus’ cry on the cross reminds us that the Bible is more a book of prayers than a book of answers. We are not rescued from our suffering but given a way through our suffering. So when we face difficult and dark times, the Bible gives us the pathway ahead.
You are NOT forsaken. Jesus has gone before you and you can follow him, journeying through to the end.
Stephen L Baxter