Being Faithful. Day two...
I can't think of anything more painful—for me at least—than to think God has left me and might not come back. And it's a far more horrifying thought now than it was back when I didn't have much invested in my relationship with Him.
This is some painful stuff to look at, but tragedy can easily blind us to His faithfulness in our lives. If you've experienced the untimely death of a loved one, you know exactly what I'm talking about. If you've experienced a significant injustice, you know exactly what I'm talking about. If you've experienced a betrayal, a tragedy, a shattered dream, a major loss of any kind… you know exactly what I'm talking about.
And you are not alone.
- Job cursed the day he was born: “Let the day of my birth be erased, and the night I was conceived. Let that day be turned to darkness. Let it be lost even to God on high, and let no light shine on it. (Job 3:3–4 NLT)”
- David, as he was running for his life, cried out to God in despair: “O LORD, how long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way? How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day? How long will my enemy have the upper hand? (Psalm 13:1–2 NLT).”
The most significant account in all of history of someone who felt abandoned by God was Jesus on the Cross.
At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o'clock. At about three o'clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” (Matthew 27:45–46 NLT)
Please consider the significance of what's going on here. I have probably read this passage over a hundred times without ever realizing that significance.
Jesus—the Son, the Christ, the Savior of the world—was crying out to God, the Father, “Why have you abandoned me.” Now, according to John 1:1–5, Jesus was right there in the beginning with the Father, completely involved in the creation of the world. So this Jesus (God with us) who is feeling abandoned by the Father, is in fact the same Jesus by whom all things were made. Are you with me so far?
But how could Jesus, who is fully God, feel abandoned by His Heavenly Father, who is also fully God? In other words, how could one Person of the Trinity feel abandoned by another Person of the Trinity? This is the point where we have to set aside the “fully man/fully God” concept of Jesus, because He obviously set aside His divine nature, or He couldn't possibly have felt abandoned. In other words, Jesus who was fully God chose to temporarily relinquish His divine position to become fully man.
Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal's death on a cross. (Philippians 2:7–8 NLT)
Try to let the power of this moment sink in, especially if you are feeling abandoned by God.
That exact same cry Jesus made on the Cross was also made earlier by someone else. David in his own distress also said, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” (See Psalm 22:1.) In fact, at the same time David was crying out to God in his own suffering, he was also prophesying about the coming Savior.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:15 ESV)
Jesus chose to completely identify with us as He said, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” At that moment in time He took on a completely human position. It was as if He relinquished His divine position so He could experience the same despair we experience when we think we are separated from God. He even quoted David's words as David felt abandoned by God, because he was identifying with our despair when we feel as if God has left us.
Yes, Jesus knew ahead of time what was going to take place. But He had no way of knowing the pain of that separation from the Father until He experienced it. From Jesus' perspective, He was abandoned. Our agony was nothing at all compared to His. He was taking on the sin of all mankind, past, present, and future. And He had to do it as a man—not as God. He was separated from His true nature so He could take on our sin nature.
This is a faithfulness that words simply cannot express. When I think about God stepping out of Heaven to sacrifice Himself for my sake, I am overwhelmed. When I am in the middle of my despair, thinking I have been abandoned by Him, I can look to Him hanging on a Cross… allowing Himself to be abandoned for me. This gives me perspective.
And as He was feeling completely forsaken, the most amazing work in history was being accomplished. When I keep this in mind, even when I feel like He has abandoned me on an emotional level, I know deep down that He is still with me.
Have a good day,