This post was first shared as issue 17 of These Sacred Words
Have you ever felt forsaken by God? Alone in your suffering? Have you ever felt that your prayers aren’t heard by God? That no one, not even God, could understand the depth of what you are walking through?
Suffering comes in many forms – for you it might look like sorrow over a loss, grief for an unmet desire, sadness over the brokenness of the world, physical pain from cancer or a chronic illness, the fear of a heavy unknown, a crippling mental illness, depression, anxiety, death…
Regardless of what you are walking through, you are likely wrought with questions, and maybe you have found yourself crying out, “where are you God?” in your darkest moments.
But it is precisely here – in these darkest moments – that the events of Easter are so poignant…
Here is a dark and gloomy garden. The ground is crisp with the cold frost of midnight. Between those gloomy olive trees, I see a man, I hear Him groan out His life in prayer! Listen, angels! Listen, men, and wonder! It is the Savior groaning out His soul! Come and see Him. Behold His brow! O heavens! Drops of blood are streaming down His face and from His body.Charles Spurgeon
Every pore is open, and it sweats; but not the sweat of men that toil for bread. It is the sweat of one that toils for heaven—He “sweats great drops of blood”! That is the blood-shedding, without which there is no remission!
Follow that man further. They have dragged Him with sacrilegious hands from the place of His prayer and His agony and they have taken Him to the hall of Pilate. They seat Him in a chair and mock Him. A robe of purple is put on His shoulders in mockery. And mark His brow—they have put about it a crown of thorns and the crimson drops of gore are rushing down His cheeks! Angels! The drops of blood are running down His cheeks!
But turn aside that purple robe for a moment. His back is bleeding. Tell me demons did this! They lift up the whips, still dripping clots of gore. They scourge and tear His flesh and make a river of blood to run down His shoulders! That is the shedding of blood without which there is no remission!
Not yet have I done—they hurry Him through the streets. They fling Him on the ground. They nail His hands and feet to the transverse wood! They hoist it in the air. They dash it into its socket. It is fixed, and there He hangs—the Christ of God! Blood from His head; blood from His hands; blood from His feet! In agony unknown He bleeds away His life.
In terrible throes He exhausts His soul. “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani.” And then look! They pierce His side and forthwith runs out blood and water!
This is the shedding of blood, sinners and saints. This is the awful shedding of blood, the terrible pouring out of blood without which for you and for the whole human race, there is no remission!
“Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
I am broken every time I read these words.
I am broken as I consider the pain my Savior endured, but I am also broken because these words echo in my mind as I recall the times I have pleaded those same words. I remember the floods of tears that have led me to this place, the darkest moments where, shaking, I too have cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
I am broken as I write this. I hurt as I remember the circumstances that caused these words to slip between my lips – “God, where are you? Why have you forsaken me?” I remember the desperation and the darkness that seemed to drown me. I remember the hopelessness and grief that shook me.
I am broken as I remember the hurt of these moments, but I am even more broken when I realize who said those words first. I am overcome when I realize that these words were said long ago as my Savior hung on a cross. I remember that he said these words because he was experiencing the most excruciating suffering that anyone on earth has ever experienced. I realize the suffering he bore was far more painful than anything I have ever walked through.
Moreso, I realize that when these words slipped past the blood-stained lips of the Christ, he was the only one who was truly able to say them.
Jesus is the only one who has ever been forsaken by God, as he bore the weight of the sin of every single man, woman, and child – past, present, and future.
Jesus is the only one who truly knows what it feels like to be desperately alone in the midst of his suffering.
I am broken as I realize that Jesus bore every ounce of grief in the most hopeless of situations, SO THAT my seasons and moments of grief would not be clouded with hopelessness.
In bearing my sins and my pain, in uttering these words, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani,” “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?,” Christ made sure that every single ounce of pain and grief we have on this side of heaven would be tinged with HOPE. He cried these words so that you and I could walk through darkness with full confidence that there is hope on the other side.
On this day that we celebrate a Savior who defeated death and rose to life eternal, know that this same Savior has never and will never forsake you.
May we begin to grasp the incredible reality that God holds us fast; that he will never ever ever forsake us. May we remember that Jesus Christ bore our sin, suffering, shame, and sorrow and was forsaken by the Father to ensure that even in our suffering and sorrow…we would have HOPE.
May we cling tightly to this hope, recalling with thankfulness the work of Christ on the cross, realizing that in all things we can trust God and have hope because HE IS RISEN.