About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?”
(which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”)
Imagine your child calling to you “Mommy!” or “Daddy!” “Why have you abandoned me?”
Is there anything more agonizing to God, than hearing His “beloved Son” suffering so much he thinks His Father left him alone?
Jesus knew that he was the lamb to be sacrificed for the sins of each of us, but He was in such physical, emotional and spiritual pain, He uttered this prayer of lament.
Lament always seemed like whining to me. I’ve changed my mind about that. Lament was practiced by people of God, including Jesus, throughout the entire Bible. Like David in Psalm 6 “My soul is in deep anguish. How long, Lord, how long?” Or Job near the end of his torment, “My spirit is broken, my days are extinguished, the grave is ready for me.”
I’ve found the concept of lament morphing from whining into a rational response to an irrational world. Sometimes we are in agony because of our own behavior or that of those we love. We mourn over losses in our lives. We are stunned by events that are beyond our control. How do we deal with a world in which a 9-year-old girl is shot and killed in our city while joyously bouncing on a trampoline in a back yard at a little friend’s birthday party? How do we deal with a world in which a 15-year-old high school star athlete is shot in the head while walking down a street in his neighborhood? We helplessly watch in real time as a dictator invades another nation, killing innocents, forcing families to flee or hide in underground locations with their children and wreaking destruction. We are witnesses to hungry, even starving children in our world. We routinely witness man’s inhumanity to man. Those horrors aren’t events that we can process and handle on our own and remain psychologically healthy, in my opinion, nor can we individually prevent or stop them. We, as children of God, can lament so our Father hears our expressions of anguish and sorrow and our petitions that He intervene.
“Lament is a tool that God’s people use to navigate pain and suffering. Lament is vital prayer for the people of God because it enables them to petition for God to help deliver from distress, suffering, and pain. Lament prayer is designed to persuade God to act on the sufferer’s behalf.” Heath A. Thomas
"I bowed my head in grief
as though weeping for my mother.
But when I stumbled, they gathered in glee;
assailants gathered against me without my knowledge.
They slandered me without ceasing."
This week's song is "O Sacred Neck" which has a very powerful final lyric: “You bore our sin, we turned our eyes from you, the Lamb of God.”
Reading Psalm 42 today:
9 I say to God my Rock, “Why have you forgotten (forsaken) me?
Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?”
10 My bones suffer mortal agony as my foes taunt me,
saying to me all day long, “Where is your God?”
Kind of eerie how similar it parallels Matthew 27. Calling out feeling forsaken and then next verse in Matthew is the taunting from the crowd as Jesus' bones were mortally suffering.