“My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me, and from the words of My groaning? O My God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not hear me: and in the night season, and am not silent.” Psalm 22:1-2
God speaking to God! God crying out to God and God not answering! God asking God for help and God not helping! God groaning to God all the day long and into the night season, and God in heaven is silent! God feeling forsaken by God! God being forsaken by God!
This Old Testament text in Psalm 22 coincides with the New Testament text in Matthew 26 as we watch Christ, our blessed Savior, enter the Garden of Gethsemane and in thrice prayer intensely petition God the Father : “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death…O my Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will…O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done” (Matthew 26:38, 39, 42). This Psalm is also prophetic of Christ’s cry from the Cross, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me” (Matthew 27:46)? In both instances, in Gethsemane and at Golgotha, when it is all said and done, our Lord is resting in the will of God!
What a day! A day foreordained by God and a day for God to fulfill! A thousand days in history to be remembered but never a day as this! But the corrupted world accepts it not. Why should they? They have been blinded by the ultimate deceiver of all time who has crafted his own doctrine which disclaims the true God in heaven let alone the true God upon the Cross! But God the Son sets right the wrong: “And this is eternal life, that they may know You the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3).
Because of God’s abounding grace in the life of a believer we will never suffer as did Jesus, the Son of God, but suffer we will. Affliction is factual and unavoidable. Job said, “Man who is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble (Job 14:1).” Who is not born of a woman! Alan Redpath, noted Bible conference speaker and for a time pastor of Moody Church, once said, “There is nothing, no circumstance, no trouble, no testing that can ever touch me until, first of all, it has come past God and past Christ, right through to me. If it has come that far, it has come with a great purpose!” So in the midst of such times there are some questions we must ask.
First, is anything impossible with God? Of course not. We learn that from all of Scripture and certainly from Christ time and again during His earthly journey from the cradle to the Cross. Matthew 26:39 must be paralleled with Mark 14:36: “O my Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will….Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.” In one text our Lord says “if” it is possible, and in the other, “all” things are possible. One commentator stated, “Though he instinctively shrank from the cup, He instantly surrendered his will to the Father’s will and drank it to the full.1” God can change anything in our lives, but sometimes change is not the best. Therefore we rest in the will of God.
Second, Should we ever question the presence of God? Our crosses in life often seem to make it appear that way. There may be periods in life when we may have felt a similar forsakenness as the Christ cry in Psalm 22, but never has it been true! The cry of Christ was a forlorn cry as He sweat great drops of blood in the garden and bore our sins in His body upon Calvary. The debt for sin had to be paid. God had to forsake Christ for our sake! The presence of God departed for a season the Son of God so that every believer with confidence could experience the presence of God forever: “I will never leave you nor forsake you…the Lord is my helper; I will not fear” (Hebrews 13:5). “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39). We do not question the presence of God, we rest in the perfect will of God.
Third, Should we ever think that we are beyond the realm of spiritual or physical testing? And why might we think that we should be exempt? Born in sin; recipients of the old nature; partaker of the Adamic race; victim of the Fall. Adam and Eve suffered the pain of loss, Cain the first to ever die, Job mature in faith but marked by affliction, Paul bearing an unyielding thorn, and myriads martyred for their faith. Trials and testings are a predictable part of the faith-walk. James instructs us to count it all joy when, not if, we fall into various trials (James 1:2). Paul reminds us that God will not give us more than we can bear (I Corinthians 10:13). We may well know the hand that afflicts but may not always understand the reason for the affliction. Sufferings, in whatever form or shape, grant us the privilege of glorifying God by demonstrating epic example of our faith through resting in the will of God.
Finally, is there ever a time when we should quit crying out to God? How often, how many times should we storm the Throne Room for some pain in our lives to great to bear? I have struggled with that dilemma and have come to the conclusion that, yes, there may be a time. Paul asked the Lord on three occasions to take away the thorn in his life but as far as we know the thorn was never removed. Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane prayed three times for the cup to pass. Some thorns are meant to stay. Sometimes the cup is not meant to pass but to be partaken. Sometimes it is best to drink the cup! Sometimes to accept is the only answer and be recipients of His abundant grace and refining fire. His silence to our screams are unseen signs of His sovereign will!
In some matters in life we can go no farther in prayer than, “Lord, Thy will be done.” We follow Christ’s example in Gethsemane. We may ask, we may ask several times, but when no answer seems to come and heaven is silent, we must pray, “Lord, Thy will be done.” There is no safer place to be than resting in the will of God!