Each year I hand select a group of men and invite them to spend a year together by reading a book a month and then get together to discuss what we’ve. Our readings range from leadership, parenting, being a better husband, to understanding who God is in our lives. I find being in these groups to be some of the most powerful and memorable times in my life. It blows my mind to be see the change that God does in these men’s lives and in their families.
With each group I always start with a book on Jesus to center us and base our time together with Him as the foundation. I know each time I read more about Christ I become changed and learn something, but this year in particular, when talking about Jesus’ death on the cross, one of the guys named Jason said something I hadn’t really noticed as much as I should.
In Mark 15:34 we read that while on the cross Jesus cries out “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
In discussing this and what it meant to the group Jason commented that he felt that the pain Jesus went through physically was nothing compared to the pain of being separated from God. That by God forsaking Him in that moment created such a spiritual pain that no physical pain could ever match.
Whamo! There is a little truth bomb right in your face!
Jason was totally right and as you look closer at the text you can see these words being echoed in another person’s life in Scripture. You see Jesus was actually quoting Psalm 22 in that moment. In this Psalm, David is vividly describing his pain in his moment of duress.
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from my cries of anguish?
My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, but I find no rest.” - Psalm 22:1-2
“But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by everyone, despised by the people.
All who see me mock me;
they hurl insults, shaking their heads.
“He trusts in the Lord,” they say,
“let the Lord rescue him. Let him deliver him,
since he delights in him.” - Psalm 22:6-9
“Do not be far from me,
for trouble is near and there is no one to help.” - Psalm 22:11
We all have times in our life when we ask the question, “Where is God in this moment?” Those times where is seems that we’re alone and everywhere we turn people are mocking us and rubbing our pain in our face. It’s in these moments that we need God the most, but sometimes we just feel like He’s taking a nap somewhere.
Clearly David felt this and Jesus literally felt this pain while hanging on the cross, but there is a difference.
Although we may “feel” like God is not there it’s not true. The promise God gave Joshua so many years ago is the same promise he gives us when he says, “No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Joshua 1:5)
God is desperately and almost to a fault for us. Despite our rebellious sin, He won’t leave us in this life and David experienced that first hand. His questions of “Where are you God?” quickly turned into “I praise you God!” in blink of an eye, as God remained faithful to him his entire life despite his sinful ways.
However Jesus felt, what I pray we never feel, while on the cross. He experienced not just the physical, but also the spiritual pain of being separated from God. That separation was of no fault of His own but was a direct result of the sin you and I committed. Our sin killed Jesus, but He willingly took our place in death so that we could be with Him in eternal life. He did all that to show His love for us and so that we might call him Abba Father. So that we might call him Daddy and experience His love for us.
Listen to me.
God is with us every nanosecond of every day and loves us deeply. He truly is for us and not against us, but we must choose to believe and follow Him. Nothing pains God more than to see His children ignore His love and run into the arms of sin that will always let them down. Think about it this way.
Sin never sacrificed anything for you, but you must sacrifice everything for sin.
Jesus sacrificed everything for you, but you can sacrifice nothing for His grace.
Believe that Jesus is for you and not against you and start living in that Truth. Look to the cross of Christ where Jesus took the pain of being separated from His Father for you so you might run into your Father’s arms one day.
Now that is something worth living for!