So many of us, at some time or another, feel forsaken by God. Jesus, in His humanity, shared that as well. Throughout the Gospels we hear Jesus talk intimately about God, as Father, Abba (Daddy), as being One with the Son. At His Baptism and Transfiguration, God let everyone know that Jesus is the Beloved Son in whom He is well pleased. Why is God absent at the crucifixion?
Not only is God absent at the Crucifixion, He has been absent throughout the Passion. In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus prayed pitifully, “Please take this cup away from me.” God the Father did not respond. Nor did He intervene at the trial, the horrific scourging, or at the mock crowning. Where was the loving Father?
How often have we felt like Jesus? Sometimes God seems so distant. There is no evidence of Him in our lives. When everything goes wrong, we feel alone. When everything is running smoothly, He’s not involved. We’re surrounded by so many people with no faith at all. Their lives seem no different from our own. Where is this God?
Jesus answers that question for us. Jesus’ impassioned cry is not simply a cry of despair. It is Psalm 22, and is truly a cry of hope. Jesus lets us know we need never despair. God always hears us. We may not understand His will in that moment, but if we allow His will to be ours, we can eventually see His wisdom and guidance in the plan. After all, if Jesus had stepped off the cross at that moment, would He have conquered death? If He remained in His human form, would we be able to see His glory? He showed us that faithful suffering is a step to salvation.
Jesus had to complete His mission. Likewise, we need to open our hearts to God’s will and accept our own mission. God will give us everything we need when we need it. When He seems distant, look around. Amazing things are happening all around that show us the face of God. We just need to recognize them. People who recognize God in everyday occurrences do live and feel differently than those with no faith. Embracing every part of our lives leads to the wonderful adventure of God’s love.
If you have not read Psalm 22, please take time during this Lenten season to do so.
Right now, consider just a few of the lines from the New American Bible translation:
(verse 3) O my God, I cry out by day, and you answer not; by night, and there is no relief for me.
(verse 10) You have been my guide since I was first formed, my security at my mother’s breast.
(verses 17-19) Indeed, many dogs surround me, a pack of evildoers closes in upon me; they have pierced my hands and my feet; I can count all my bones. They look on and gloat over me; they divide my garments among them, and for my vesture they cast lots.
(verse 23) I will proclaim your name to my brethren; in the midst of the assembly I will praise you.
(verse 25) For he has not spurned nor disdained the wretched man in his misery, Nor did he turn his face away from him, but when he cried out to him he heard him.
(verses 31b-32) Let the coming generation be told of the Lord that they may proclaim to a people yet to be born the justice he has shown.