What does it mean to be forsaken by God? As Christians we sometimes take a few quick leaps that go something like this: Jesus cried out, “My God, why have you forsaken me?” This, then, is when God the Father turned God’s back on the Son while the Son was bearing our sins. And so, being forsaken by God is an experience of spiritual abandonment, when we no longer experience the presence of God with us.
Spiritual abandonment, or a “dark night of the soul,” is a real and significant spiritual experience for many. Yesterday we saw how the hiddenness of God worsened Job’s experience of rejection. But it begins with the realities of embodied life.
This is the psalm for people who can boldly and rightly cry out to God because God has not done what God has promised. When Israel trusted in God, they were delivered from their enemies—this is the God of Israel living up to the promises God has made!
When God does not protect the people, when outsiders can mock because their prayers remain unanswered, when God’s beloved Son is hung on a cross to die, then God has forsaken.
This is why we must cultivate the radical act of lament within the people of God. To feel forsaken by God is to be in a place where God has not acted as God has promised. The only mechanism for righting this situation is for the people of God to stand together and demand of God that God act according to divine character.
By placing such cries within the book of Psalms, the Bible teaches us that we discover part of our corporate identity in siding with the forsaken of the world and crying out to God for rescue. In this, we embody the saving faithfulness of Christ who sided with the forsaken in being himself forsaken on the cross.
God of our salvation, show yourself faithful by saving those who are mocked and even killed for trusting in you. Amen.
Faithful people still have questions for God. Job wishes he could sit down with God and plead his case because he wants God to justify what has happened to him. The psalmist also feels abandoned by God and wonders why God is not coming to his aid. God can handle our questions. Job wanted an advocate, and Hebrews says that Jesus now fills that role for us. He is our great high priest and understands our sufferings, so we may boldly approach him for help. In Mark, Jesus deals with the challenge of money. It is a powerful force and can come between us and God if we cling to our resources instead of holding them loosely with thanksgiving for God’s provision.
Read Job 23:1-9, 16-17. When have you, like Eliphaz, attributed your own suffering or that of others to wickedness on your part or on theirs? How often do you find yourself blaming others for the situations in which they find themselves?
Read Psalm 22:1-15. How could your prayer life be more honest and transparent? What feelings do you hold back?
Read Hebrews 4:12-16. When God shines the spotlight on your soul, what does God see?
Read Mark 10:17-31. How do you square your “wealthy” life with Jesus’ call to discipleship?
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