By Katie Pearson
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest. Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. In you our fathers trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them. To you they cried out and were rescued; in you they trusted and were not put to shame. But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by mankind and despised by the people. All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads. ‘He trusts in the LORD; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him!’ Yet you are he who took me from the womb; you made me trust you at my mother’s breasts. On you was I cast from my birth, and from my mother’s womb you have been my God. Be not far from me, for trouble is near, and there is none to help. Many bulls encompass me; strong bulls of Bashan surround me; they open wide their mouths at me, like a ravening and roaring lion. I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death.” - Psalm 22:1–15
Sometimes the Psalms shock us. Many times they also encourage us. On the one hand, they express the bleakness and despair of life; on the other hand, they shine the light and hope of the Gospel. The great paradox of Christianity is that the way down is the way up, and the valley of pain is the way to the hilltop of praise. David’s story in the Psalms shows us these extremes. Like Job, David was a righteous man favored by God, but he experienced deep darkness. On the cross in deep anguish, Jesus quoted David’s words: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
This psalm shocks us. How could God allow David to endure such emotional and spiritual isolation? But this psalm also encourages us. How could the Son of God endure even deeper emotional and spiritual isolation for me? The gravity of Jesus’s sacrifice is more than our minds can comprehend, but no question it pierces our hearts. Psalm 22 shapes us into disciples who walk by faith, not sight, even in suffering.
But how do we walk by faith when it feels like God is far away? How do we take the next step forward in faith when we don’t know where to go—when we can’t see ahead, and we can’t hear God’s direction?
Psalm 22:4 reminds us to look back to go forward: “In you our fathers trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them.” David recalled God’s faithfulness to the Israelites. In our most desperate moments when no quick fix is before us, we can look back to the path behind us. We can remember the path up Golgotha that Christ walked for us. We can recall his path to death that made possible our path to life. We can reflect on the cross and receive complete reassurance of our safety and salvation in Christ.
Jesus has experienced all the pain you feel and more. He will never abandon nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5). He stands beside you on the path, and he stands beside the believers in your life who seem to suffer alone. Don’t feel powerless to provide comfort to loved ones who are struggling. God has given you everything you need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). So stand in the gap. Point them to Jesus. Reflect together on the truth that, even in our suffering, Jesus is present and victorious. No matter what we are facing today, our Rescuer has already come. He who died to save us will one day deliver us safely home.
How might the Lord be calling you to come down so that he might lift you up today?
The Crucified Life small group Christian study is designed to reflect upon the Seven Last Words of Christ from the cross and what they mean for us today. Walk the road of Calvary with Jesus in order to grow closer to Him. The Crucified Life small group study examines human suffering as it is mirrored in Christ’s suffering on the cross and what His seven last words say to a hurting world. Find out incredible insights into these words as Jesus teaches us, even in death, how we can use our suffering and triumph over it for His glory. Begin your Crucified Life today.
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