Psalm 22:1-11 (ESV)
1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?
2 O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer,
and by night, but I find no rest.
3 Yet you are holy,
enthroned on the praises of Israel.
4 In you our fathers trusted;
they trusted, and you delivered them.
5 To you they cried and were rescued;
in you they trusted and were not put to shame.
6 But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by mankind and despised by the people.
7 All who see me mock me;
they make mouths at me; they wag their heads;
8 “He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him;
let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”
9 Yet you are he who took me from the womb;
you made me trust you at my mother’s breasts.
10 On you was I cast from my birth,
and from my mother’s womb you have been my God.
11 Be not far from me,
for trouble is near,
and there is none to help.
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Psalm 22 is what Jesus quoted from the cross. And in truth, we all sometimes feel as if God is absent and we are utterly alone, forsaken, and without help.
In a world where Facebook posts successes, in churches where others seem to have it together and other’s marriages seem pleasant, and other’s jobs don’t seem to suck their souls… where prosperity teachers urge us to positive confessions and to move from victory to victory… it’s easy to feel alone when we’re in a dark and forsaken kind of place.
But that’s not how believers in former generations approached this: they recognized the dark night of the soul. It’s not how the Psalmist approaches it either. This psalm guides us when we feel desperate and alone.
Two key elements come together: really deep honesty, and hope. In verses 1-2 and 6-8 the psalmist dumps out the reality of how the current situation feels, and he doesn’t hold back. At the same time, he clings to hope: God has delivered his people in the past, God has been present since his birth, and God is the one he continues to cry out to.
As we face the pain life sometimes offers, may we too learn to be deeply honest and at the same time hang on to hope.
Oh God, who has delivered your people in the past, in our dark times, grant us the courage to be deeply honest with you and each other, and grant us strength to cling to hope in these times. Through Christ our Lord, who suffered and was tempted just as we are and yet persevered in hope.