“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Of all the words from the cross, this is the most painful to hear. It is a completely honest cry of lament, lifted from the opening phrases of Psalm 22. In this moment of extraordinary agony, Jesus enters fully into the darkest places of human experience, and he prays this prayer of abandonment.
He teaches us what it means to pray in difficult seasons. He models for us what honest prayer looks like. His prayer is permission for honest faithfulness.
There is no doubt that this Holy Week is different from any we have ever experienced. We are dealing with changes and uncertainties that bring us to a place from which we must learn to pray honestly. But beyond that, there are people in our communities and all over the world who are fighting for life itself in the face of this pandemic. There are health care workers and chaplains who are risking illness themselves to care for those who are hurting. Among those who are most ill, and among those who are risking most, are there prayers of agony and pain and frustration and abandonment rising from the darkness?
But in this prayer of Jesus there is Gospel. The Christ to whom we pray is no stranger to our sufferings or our challenges. He entered into the darkest places, experiencing the worst pain, suffering and abandonment that are possible. He prayed this honest yet agonizing prayer. So, the one who hears us as we pray is not unfamiliar, but knows.
And there is more Gospel. He has not only been to the deepest and darkest places. He has overcome them.
Watch the fourth installment of a special 7-part Holy Week video series with CBF Executive Coordinator Paul Baxley titled “Words in the Dark: The Seven Last Words of Christ.”
Learn more and view the entire “Words in the Dark” video series throughout Holy Week 2020 at www.cbf.net/holyweek