My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer;
and by night, but find no rest.
Yet you are holy,
enthroned on the praises of Israel.
In you our ancestors trusted;
they trusted, and you delivered them.
To you they cried, and were saved;
in you they trusted, and were not put to shame.
But I am a worm, and not human;
scorned by others, and despised by the people.
All who see me mock at me;
they make mouths at me, they shake their heads;
“Commit your cause to the Lord; let him deliver—
let him rescue the one in whom he delights!”
Yet it was you who took me from the womb;
you kept me safe on my mother’s breast.
On you I was cast from my birth,
and since my mother bore me you have been my God.
Do not be far from me,
for trouble is near
and there is no one to help.
- Psalm 22 (New Revised Standard Version)
The first thought that pops into my head when I read this is Mark 15:34 when Jesus quotes this Psalm by saying “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me”. I have never liked that part of the story. I always struggle with why Christ’s death had to occur the way it did. Me being me, I want to swoop in and if not take Jesus far far away from the cross at least give him a big hug and hold him as he dies so he is not alone. Like at the end of Les Miserables when Fantine is there to lead Jean Valjean from his death surrounded by his family and everyone is united in song. But in the end Jesus did not get a musical ending of “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”. Instead, he died in the manner Rome killed those who it felt threatened by.
But Psalm 22 places this line in a slightly different context. The author says despite feeling forsaken by God and all alone he still trusts in God. He trust in God is like his ancestors where those who cried out were heard and not put to shame. This is similar to a deal I made with the universe a long time ago. I would trust it would all work out in the end but I don’t give up my right to complain. This is a tension I am able to use to both feel empowered and to feel safe about the future.
Most people face points in their lives when it seems like absolutely everything is going wrong and there is no one to listening to them or is willing to take the time and effort to understand what they are going through. Psalm 22 says when we feel this way we need to cry out, we need to yell, and say “Does anyone care about me? Why won’t anyone help me?”
When we do this we need to trust we will find we are not as alone as we think. Instead of our crying out pushing people away, our crying is likely to draw people in who want to help you. As is shown repeatedly in the bible when people “cry out” to the lord, he listens and starts to put into action a plan to help them.
- Lisa Rothman