My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?

Major Marta Ager
Salvation Army

“You have really got to help me. I am struggling with my faith. How could Dana Reeve die?” Dana Reeve was the widow of actor Christopher Reeve. Christopher Reeve was riding a horse in 1995 when he was involved in an accident that left him paralyed. He spent his final years in a wheelchair, his body anything but that of the Superman he once played in the movies. Dana stood by his side throughout his illness, soon after his death she developed lung cancer. She died at 44, leaving a 13-year-old son who lost both of his parents in less than two years. Painful? Cruel? Unfair? You better believe it.

“How could Dana Reeve die?” You can imagine the anguish in the woman’s voice the moment the conversation began. The question was not about lung cancer, or about dying before your fiftieth birthday. It was about God, and at the heart of the question stood anger, doubt and frustration. How could a good God take such a good life at such a young age? How could this extraordinary woman die of lung cancer when she was not even a smoker? How could a 13-year-old be left to fend for himself after losing two parents in less than two years?

How many times do you ask yourself similar questions about the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, or the killings in Libya? Maybe your thoughts are of frustration and confusion. In that case you know well Martha’s pain at the tomb of her brother, Lazarus, in John’s gospel. You can easily echo her words: “God, if you had been there then my brother would not have died.”

We have all been disappointed by God at one point in our lives. We all have prayers that have seemingly gone unanswered, leaving us to wonder if God really listens. We have all doubted God, wondering if the things written in the scriptures are true. We have all felt abandoned, desperate for a tangible sign of God’s presence in our lives.

When Jesus cries out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” he experiences the pain of abandonment. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” This one question evokes a hundred new questions. God’s Son is dying upon the cross. God is there but He does not halt the event or make it go any faster. Why does Jesus feel he is forsaken by his father? Why did He have to die such a horrible death? Lord, why can we not simply skip over to the empty tomb? Why do we have to hear these horrible words?

We can look at this cross and be given the strength to endure whatever pain we are experiencing because as he died on that cross he spoke words of pain, frustration and abandonment. He knows our cry when the only words we can say to God are not words of praise, thanksgiving or adoration, but words of pain, disappointment, and anguish.

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

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