Psalm 22 (NRSV)
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer;
and by night, but find no rest.
Yet you are holy,
enthroned on the praises of Israel.
In you our ancestors trusted;
they trusted, and you delivered them.
To you they cried, and were saved;
in you they trusted, and were not put to shame.
…All the ends of the earth shall remember
and turn to the Lord;
and all the families of the nations
shall worship before him.
For dominion belongs to the Lord,
and he rules over the nations.
To him, indeed, shall all who sleep in the earth bow down;
before him shall bow all who go down to the dust,
and I shall live for him.
Posterity will serve him;
future generations will be told about the Lord,
and proclaim his deliverance to a people yet unborn,
saying that he has done it.
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” A phrase that encompasses the depths of human suffering, the phrase that Jesus uttered on the cross. Psalm 22 opens with a desperate plea to a God who is seemingly not there. Feeling forsaken by God is not exclusive to Christ or even particularly rare; rather it can be something we struggle with fairly frequently. John Calvin wrote: “There is not one of the godly who does not daily experience in himself the same thing. According to the judgement of the flesh, he thinks he is cast off and forsaken by God, while yet he apprehends by faith the grace of God, which is hidden from the eye of sense and reason.”
As we read this during the Lenten season it can be easy to identify with the speaker from the beginning and feel as if God is hidden from us, but as the Psalm continues the cries of despair are transformed into exultations of praise. The speaker remembers that “he did not despise or abhor the affliction of the afflicted; he did not hide his face from me but heard me when I cried to him.” Through this Psalm we are reminded that no matter how dark things may seem, though it may feel as if God has turned away from us in our struggles, it is through placing our faith in him that we will overcome even when we cannot see the way forward.
Heavenly Father, we confess that sometimes we feel alone, abandoned by you. Help us remember through our faith that you are here no matter what and have not turned away from us. In your name we pray, amen.
VIDEO LINK – Felix Mendelssohn, Psalm 22