My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?
We’ve seen how the Psalms proclaim Christ. These songs show the interplay of four main players:
2) The Ideal King (Christ)
3) Those who trust in Him
4) The wicked
Some of these songs are the words of God to His King (His Christ). Some of them are the people’s words to God about the King. Some of them are comparisons of the wicked and the true King. And so many of them, like Psalm 22, are the words of the King to God.
David was well aware that it was the Lord’s words that were on his lips as he wrote such Psalms (2 Samuel 23:2). He was voicing the prayers of the Ideal King – the Messiah.
And incredibly, these prayers take in a whole range of emotions – from joy to anger to utter despair. So when Christ was born into our situation – full of joy, anger, despair etc – He uses these prayers that He had prepared for Himself and takes them on His human lips. He enters into the fullness of our predicament. He sings all our songs
And that includes even this one:
My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? (Psalm 22:1; Mark 15:34)
Jesus cries out His own Psalm 22 while on the cross. This thousand year old prayer had been prepared for this very occasion and now Jesus prays it to a black and silent heaven.
Could it be that the Lord of heaven has so descended into our plight that He experiences godforsakenness?
Well if we’re reluctant to affirm that, we are doubting the fullness of Christ’s identification with us. Yes, He is fully God – the eternal Son of the Father. But He also became fully human – our Brother, bone of our bones and flesh of our flesh.
And since He enters our situation, who can deny that our experience of life is indeed “godforsakenness”?
One of the most keenly felt aspects of our humanity is our godlessness. Where is He? How can He feel so remote when “in him we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28)? How can we be so estranged from the Source of our life? Why does God seem so far off?
Jesus enters into all of that. And not just the feeling of godforsakenness. On the cross, He enters our alienation from God due to our sins. He doesn’t have a bungee cord wrapped around Him, descending only so far but no further. No, He plumbs the depths. The Lord of heaven endures hell.
Which means Christianity has a very surprising response to that age old question: “Where is God when it hurts?”
The Christian can say, “I know a God who asked that question Himself!”
Therefore the experience of hurt can never disprove this God. He has been the godforsaken God. He has so identified with you in your plight that He has asked that question with you and for you.
And if God takes even godforsakenness to Himself, then there simply is no situation in which we need to despair. Because Christ was godforsaken, we need never be. Even the most profound experiences of abandonment can be a participation in the suffering of Christ – and therefore an experience of the deepest divine fellowship!