Psalm 22:1. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?
The fear of abandonment is never far from our minds is it? Rejection is an emotional dread that is far greater than any physical fear we face. And so we spend much of our lives trying to prevent it. As children we cry for our parents to not leave us alone. As teenagers we do everything we can to be popular and not lose our friends. As adults it’s not any better. There is no end to the rejections we may face. In simply not being pursued. In conflicts, secrets, break-ups, divorce, distance, and of course death. Each experience adds to our fear of abandonment. Even in the healthiest of relationships there can be that underlying anxiety – “what will I do if they ever leave me?”
We don’t know the specific situation that the psalmist is facing in Psalm 22, but clearly it is a terrifying attack by human enemies (v.12-18). But his suffering at the hands of man is the least of his worries. His despair comes in feeling that God has left him alone. That God won’t answer his cries.
Psalm 22:2. O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer,
and by night, but I find no rest.
If God’s presence is our greatest joy and pleasure (see yesterday’s reading), then God’s absence must be our greatest distress and pain. This is why, even as Christians, we fear losing God and his love. We talk far too often about being “distant from God,” or staying “close to God.” Which of us hasn’t asked where is God? Why doesn’t he answer me? How much religious energy is spent in an attempt to keep God near? We confess, commit, practice spiritual disciplines, and bounce from worship experience to worship experience hoping to avoid the feeling of abandonment by God.
But here’s the greatest truth of your union with Christ – Jesus was forsaken by God so that you would never, ever be.
Matthew 27:46. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Jesus took to the cross every human fear of abandonment and rejection. But more importantly he took to the cross our human condition. Our fear of abandonment by God is real because our condition is real. The natural human condition of separation from God. Why are we separated? Why has God forsaken us? Psalm 22:3 answers for us – Yet you are holy.
God’s holiness demands perfection. It demands a matching holiness. But the only thing we bring to the table with God is our sin and the curse of all our unrighteousness. Therefore, God’s holiness demands our godforsakenness.
But the good news of union with Christ is that Jesus took our abandonment, rejection, and godforsakenness upon himself. He became our sin (2 Cor. 5:21). He became our curse (Gal. 3:13). He was separated from the Father and sent into the pit of death and darkness, but then raised again to glorious life and light. His prayer was heard. His sacrifice was accepted. His life was restored.
Psalm 22:24. For he has not despised or abhorred
the affliction of the afflicted,
and he has not hidden his face from him,
but has heard, when he cried to him.
Because Christ has joined you in your separation from God, you are now joined in his union with God. Separation. Rejection. Abandonment. Godforsakenness. All now impossible in Christ. He will never be forsaken again, and neither will we.
Why did God forsake Jesus? For you. For me. So that God would never have to forsake us. So that he could bring us into his family as his precious adopted sons and daughters. So that we would never have to fear rejection ever again. The fear of abandonment by God, and the need to control your own closeness to God have been buried in the grave.
“To live is Christ” means there is nothing in this life that can make you nearer to or farther from God in Christ. In Christ even sin can’t move us away from God, only deeper into the grace of God’s cleansing forgiveness. And in his love every sorrow is a movement deeper into the fellowship of the suffering of Christ. Into deeper satisfaction.
Psalm 22:26. The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied;
those who seek him shall praise the Lord!
Do you ever feel forsaken by God?
You in Christ
How would you process your sin and suffering differently if you really believed you’re never abandoned by God?
Christ in you
How can you approach God boldly today in Christ?