My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer;
and by night, but find no rest.
Yet you are holy,
enthroned on the praises of Israel.
In you our ancestors trusted;
they trusted, and you delivered them.
To you they cried, and were saved;
in you they trusted, and were not put to shame.
Reflection – Brandon Hudson
King David, the writer of this Psalm, was described as God’s own chosen and a king after God’s own heart. And yet, even he knew the feeling of being abandoned by God. What’s more, these words of the Psalmist are the words that Jesus utters as he hangs on the cross. Even God’s own son knew the feeling of abandonment.
We do ourselves a disservice if we do not acknowledge our own feelings of being left by the One who loves us most. Almost every saint who has gone before us, in his or her most honest moments, has expressed feelings of a “winter of the soul” when they did not feel the connection to God they had once enjoyed. What a joy it is, however, to worship a God who holds space for all of our feelings, not just the positive ones.
This is one of the reasons I believe so deeply in the need for Christian community. I believe that in those moments when we cannot feel God, we can turn to others who are on the journey with us to guide us while we feel blind and lost. We can turn with comfort to those saints who have gone before, to King David, and even to Jesus and trust that on the other side of our feelings of abandonment there is a wide opened field of connection and hope.
The psalmist turns in the middle of these verse to explore this very idea. While holding his feelings of abandonment with ribald honesty, he then remembers that the holiness of God endures and that the trust of the ancestors who believed in God and continued on their journey of faith was not wasted – they were not put to shame!
May we take a moment today, as we head towards Maundy Thursday in the middle of this Holy Week to practice holy honesty. May we lay before God the feelings we have of abandonment and betrayal. Then, with tear streaked faces, may we remember that on the other side of the cross, on the other side of our dismay, the tomb will be empty. We just have to keep walking to get there.