Matthew 27:46 (ESV) 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?”
One can go through anything while feeling accompanied by God, but the sense of divine abandonment during the most difficult of times is worse than anything imaginable.
Lord Jesus was ready to suffer through everything that the Father had predestined- but the feeling of divine abandonment was almost too much to bear.
Hebrews 4:8-9 (NIV)- Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.
God the Father had predestined that His eternal Son be perfected in obedience through suffering so that in his existential knowledge, he could rightly stand as the savior of many souls.
But in order to do that… He first had to experience what it means to be betrayed, insulted, abused, rejected and even murdered by those he loved most and for whom he was ready to die.
How else was the Anointed (Messiah) of God supposed to dispense true justice in the world if he himself had not suffered what countless humans have suffered from the days of Cain and Abel to our present time?
But greater than this… If he was to be God’s representative, he also had to experience what God felt when His chosen people Israel rejected Him time, and time, and time again…
When Lord Jesus exclaimed from the Cross: “My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me?” he was quoting the prayer in Psalm 22.
This is very significant… because unless we read the entire Psalm, we will not understand what Christ was holding on to while suffering the pangs of death and humiliation.
Psalm 22:22-24 (NIV)- I will declare your name to my brothers, in the congregation I will praise you. You who fear the LORD, praise him! All you descendants of Jacob, honor him! Revere him, all you descendants of Israel! For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.
When feeling the greatest sense of divine abandonment, Lord Jesus not only exclaimed the first verse of Psalm 22 as indicative of how he felt… but also in order to remind himself and his disciples that God the Father had not abandoned him!
True obedience to God requires a cleaving to His promises even during the times of greatest torment and affliction.
On the Cross, Lord Jesus felt abandoned… but because he knew what His Father had promised, he kept his mind focused on the victory after the Cross.
God knows your sufferings… He knows you’ve been betrayed, trampled and abandoned by those you love. You feel as if God was far away or even non-existent. Remember all the times you’ve been conscious of God’s grace and power in your life. Remember all the miracles! Remember all the answered prayers!
If you are going through a time in which you feel that God has abandoned you, it is because you are a step away from PERFECTION.
You are a step away from being LIKE GOD…
Hang in there… the Resurrection is around the corner.