Matthew’s Passion: God dies alone
40 Blogs of Lent: 36
Jesus dies alone. Abandoned by his followers and rejected by the people he cries out to his Father.
Since before time itself was created, Jesus, the Messiah, the Christ, member of the Godhead, Emmanuel, God with us, God in human form is alone and looks for comfort, but finds none. He cries, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Then God dies. The Messiah, the Christ, God in human form dies. Alone.
Suffering is not a sin
(Sometimes my train of thought when praying through writing a blog takes me in a direction I had not intended. This is one of those occasions.)
Have you ever felt alone? Have you ever felt abandoned by God? I have for eight years not felt God in my life. After an accident that left me disabled I felt great at first, seeing daily improvements for the first year. During the time in hospital, when it was not clear if I would recover I had surrendered my life to God. Prepared to die I recovered and got my life back. But it became clear that this was not the life I had before.
I was feeling bereavement for my old life. I still attended church, and sat through the prayer meetings silently, I knew God answered prayers, I had lots of experience of that, God had even used my prayers to heal people, but now I was running on past experience of God, I did not feel God near me in the present.
The problem was that the help most Christians gave was not help but abuse. “If you feel far from God, guess who’s moved?” is as abusive as it gets.
Jesus felt abandoned by hid Father. Had Jesus moved.
Of course he hadn’t. Neither have depressed people, neither have women with postpartum anxiety. They are suffering, and suffering is not a sin.
Suffering is not a sin.
I cannot stress this enough. The victim blaming of phrases like, “If you feel far from God, guess who’s moved?” has to stop. Now. I appreciate it is true for some people, but it is abusive to others. Most of the use I have heard is abousive to some. Stop abusing us.
I fully appreciate that eight years in a spiritual wilderness is a long time. If I had received professional help it could have been shorter, but I got passed on to Christian counsellors who reinforced the abuse. It wasn’t until I got psychiatric help that I was also able to see that Jesus was not condemning me for suffering, but walking alongside me all the time.
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me. Is a powerful prayer to make, it echoes the words of Jesus. Walking with Jesus is walking the way of the cross, it is the great moral example of how we should live. I have blogged earlier about following Jesus leading us to our own Gethsemane, but if we follow further it could lead us to our own abandonment. Do not fight it, embrace it, it is the way of Jesus, and please allow others to have their times of darkness, they are walking with Jesus too.
Streams of light in dark places
I almost changed churches. One person, Sharon, the Vicar’s wife at the time came and spoke to me at the end of the service on more than one occasion, all of them without me asking, and telling me how much she appreciated me and how much I contributed to the church.
These always came when I was particularly low, not just contemplating suicide, but having decided on it and trying to find a way to do it with the least trauma to family. Having children at exam taking age helped postpone it too.
“There’s always light at the end of a tunnel,” is another phrase I hate. Not if you’re in a cave there isn’t. But Jesus is in the cave and if you let him he can find you.
I am not out of my cave yet, by any stretch of the imagination, but I am living my life with Jesus and I have learnt to love my church all over again.
Thanks to Sharon, there are times you need someone else’s faith as well as your own in order to carry on.
45 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. 46 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?” 47 And some of the bystanders, hearing it, said, “This man is calling Elijah.” 48 And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine, and put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink. 49 But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.” 50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.
Matthew 27 ESVUK
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.
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