Lenten Prayer Guide: Week 5
My God, My God, Why. . . ?
By Danielle Ingram (with ponderings from Dan),
Executive Directors, Circle Square Ranch Spruce Woods, MB
Reflection 1: Monday March 15
Scripture: Matthew 27:46
Maybe you can identify with some of these hardships. I ask myself if I even want a connection to God in this moment. My perception is there will be a requirement of me, and I don’t want to surrender control of my life. So, instead I want to cling to comforts and feel sorry for myself as I maintain the illusion that I have control over my circumstances.
As I look towards the cross and at Jesus’ final words “Eli, Eli lema sabachthani,” I often wonder why Jesus stayed the course and what he was thinking. “My God, my God,why have you forsaken me?”
Did the Father really leave Jesus alone at his darkest hour, in horrible pain, being mocked as people watched? How can Jesus stand the humiliation? We all know he is fulfilling God’s plan, but how hard it must have been to stay the course.
When Jesus cries out “My God, why have you forsaken me?” he is referring to Psalm 22. In quoting the opening verse asa title for the psalm, Jesus invites us to call to mind the whole psalm. Not only does Jesus fulfill this prophecy, but he identifies with the psalmist’s agony, the feeling of being separated from God. Then the psalmist remembers some very important things: God is holy; he rescues; he doesn’t ignore or turn his back on the suffering; he acts justly and righteously. Verse 24 is particularly powerful: “For he has not ignored or belittled the suffering of the needy. He has not turned his back on them, but has listened to their cries for help.” Jesus declared that his Father would not turn his back on him or on us.
In the midst of my hardship when I feel that God has forsaken me, I am tempted to ease my pain. I want to disengage with God and find anything that will comfort me. I am desperate for relief. I know from experience, however, this will only mask the issues temporarily. I am only able to stay the course because I cling to the reality of Psalm 22 – that the Father walks with us even when we cannot feel, see, or experience his presence.
Our feelings of abandonment are very real, but they are not the whole picture. Feelings don’t always represent the reality of what is going on. In the case of David, he doesn’t let his feelings make him forget God or God’s holiness. In the midst of suffering, David remembers God, the very God who was with him from the moment he came to be. God has heard every cry and has come to rescue the Israelites multiple times. The psalmist’s life is full of up and down moments, but he stays the course with God, acknowledging him as a very present holy God, always ready to act and respond.
I think that in his darkest hour, Jesus is expressing not only his feeling of being separated from the Father but also, he is remembering that the Father has not abandoned him. Because of this, Jesus is able to stay the course right to the very end.
Ponder: Where are you tempted to stray from the course? What comforts do you turn to in order to disengage? Look back on your darkest days. Where can you trace God’s presence in those moments? Remember he sees, he hears, and he doesn’t turn his back.
Reflection 2: Tuesday, March 16
Scripture: Psalm 13
Ponder: How is Jesus inviting you to patiently trust in his timing when it seems like the best time may has passed?
Reflection 3: Wednesday, March 17
Scripture: Lamentations 3
Ponder: How can you dare to hope in the midst of the suffering that you are experiencing in this hard season?
Reflection 4: Thursday, March 18
Scripture: Habakkuk 1:-2:1
Ponder: What is causing confusion in this season, and what does it mean for you to climb the watchtower to wait in hope?
Reflection 5: Friday, March 19
Scripture: Luke 19:41-44
Ponder: How is Jesus inviting you to weep with him for the area you live in and for pray for its people to find the way of peace?