When I first started this journey through the season of Lent, I
toldask my husband, Roger, to consider writing a guest post during this series. Thankfully, he has a way with words and agreed! His words have weight because I know him well and his heart and character speak the same language whether he’s speaking to one or one hundred. He’s an honest follower of Jesus Christ and has taught me more about what that means than anybody else I know. I’m thrilled to share his words with you here on A Life-giving Moment.
By Roger Martin, Jr.
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish? 2 My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest. (Psalm 22:1-2, NIV)
Let me ask you a question about the heartbreaking words above, but don’t answer too quickly.
Who is speaking?
My note identifies this as a quote from one of the Psalms in the Bible. Psalm 22. You will look at the title of Psalm 22 and discover that the anguished songwriter is David. David is the one speaking. King David, the second king of Israel. Was that your answer? Perhaps, but you may be conflicted, because he is not the only one. You may have thought of another person.
In the pages of the Bible, God occasionally employs a creative device in which the word spoken reflects both a current event and a future event. A present story is fused with a future story. An utterance is both a present proclamation and a future prophecy. Welcome to Psalm 22. And so, David is speaking his anguished, despairing question, but he utters the anguished despairing cry of a future man—a great, great, great…very Great grandson of his. Jesus.
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?”). (Matthew 27:46, NIV)
Who is speaking in Psalm 22? Clearly, it is Jesus. Was that your answer? Perhaps, but you may be conflicted, because he is not the only one. You may have thought of another person. You
The Psalms—the poetic songbook of the Bible—are intended to express and resonate with the deepest emotions and experiences of the human condition. It is no accident that you will be reading the verse of a psalmist and find yourself saying, “that’s me. That is exactly what I feel.” Who is speaking in Psalm 22? You. And me. It is our cry. And so Peter Kreeft writes:
“Out of our tears, our waiting, our darkness, our agonized aloneness, out of our weeping and wondering, out of our cry, ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’ He came all the way, right into that cry.” (Bread and Wine, Plough Publishing, 2003, pg. 157)
Is there any more universal cry in the history of the world? Some of you may hesitate. You have never actually mouthed the words, “My God, why hast thou forsaken me?’ Neither have I. But surely you have asked God to do a good thing, only to find him maddeningly unresponsive. His addiction remains. Your mother died. Your daughter still will not speak to you. Your father did not come back from the deployment. You were still evicted. The anxiety attacks are getting worse. He still divorced you. The molesting continued. Your MS remains. No one wants to say “I do.” Your friend remains unemployed. You simply asked God to do good, but He did not come through.
You might even say that this is the cry of the atheist, since countless people have dismissed or abandoned the idea of God on one key damning basis. He twiddles his thumbs while babies die of hunger and children languish in squalid tent cities.
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” It may be the single most universal cry in the history of the world. Who said it? Everyone. Including Jesus. This staggers me. Mind you, I am very aware of what the Bible says in Hebrews 2:17:
For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. (Hebrews 2:17, NIV)
Jesus walked into our deeply broken world and encountered our losses. He has experienced betrayal, assault, humiliation, abandonment, hunger, death of friends, hatred, misunderstanding, judgmentalism, mocking, and far more. But I would never, ever, ever have expected Jesus to experience “God-forsaken.” He could simply never go that far. G.K. Chesterton captures part of the incredulity:
“They will find only one divinity who ever uttered their isolation; only one religion in which God seemed for an instant to be an atheist.” (Bread and Wine, Plough Publishing, 2003, pg. 167)
God could simply never go that deeply into the pit. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” No one could ever have predicted that God Himself would say that. Except God. Psalm 22. God told us He would enter into the most anguished desperate cry of the human heart. He would enter into God-forsaken. He would feel it. He would writhe in it. He would voice it. He would die in it.
And somehow in the God-forsaken, He saved us from it. God was present in His absence. He was speaking in His silence. He was working in his waiting. He was saving in His suffering. Never forsaken came through God forsaken. For all of us. In Jesus. The God-forsaken.
And God told us this is how it would go down. Psalm 22. Because He knew you’d be asking.
Roger Martin lives with his wife (Joy) in Huntsville, Alabama and serves as the missions pastor and one of the teaching pastors at Westside Community Church. He’s a real-life dad to Roger III (Jenny), Carrye Burr (Jeff), Rachel Raddatz (Bryan) and Ben and Papa to 7 really awesome grandchildren.
In most recent years, God has placed a deep passion in his heart for the poor and the under-resourced. In Roger-fashion, he took that seriously and moved into a low-income neighborhood to be with those God had given him a heart to love. God has given him an incredible gift of communicating truth as a writer and teacher. You can read more of his writing at A Ramblin Man. (Book coming soon! Stay tuned!) His signature look–baseball cap, pen behind his ear, t-shirt and shorts–portray the down-to-earth guy that we’ve grown to love and appreciate.
Next week: Chapters 34-40 with a “Reader Response” in between as we journey closer to the cross of Jesus Christ and His glorious Resurrection!
Be sure to visit Marie Griffith, at Full-Time, as she writes along the way as well.
Embrace the Journey!