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?”
What a heart wrenching question from the mouth of Jesus. The son who has been sharing an unhindered relationship with his father since eternity, is now driven to say these words. While we might think he is tempted to doubt his father’s love, he positions his circumstance against the backdrop of scripture and quotes from Psalm 22:1. From the depths of his pain he quotes scripture. Jesus’ life is so steeped in scripture.
Just as Psalm 22 is the cry of a community, Jesus here is identifying with the sufferings of this world and experiences what it means to be concealed from God’s love. He enters our struggle and abandonment and experiences what each one of us has to go through when we abandon the love of God for other lesser loves. The writer Augustine expresses this beautifully, Jesus is praying as the head and as the body.
This cry is a reminder that Jesus unites all our suffering. As Christians, we are reminded here that our suffering is not private. Jesus associates with us. Our suffering is also not private because we are a community of believers. Ideally, we ought to suffer with those who are suffering.
Today, let us remember that our suffering is not an isolated experience but we have Jesus who suffers with us. Let us also remember those who are suffering so that we may enter into their circumstances and offer our help and assistance.
We might feel Jesus isn’t doing enough to alleviate our suffering. Instead, he seems to plunge us deeper. That is right, he plunges us deeper by helping us realize that our suffering is not in vain. It is not meant to be an individual experience but a cooperative experience of redemption. Jesus’ involvement in human suffering and his cry of abandonment must serve as a model for us to stand in the gap and help.
Dear Lord, help us to step into, walk with and alleviate the pain of those who are suffering. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.