Around three o’clock, Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Mark 15:34 (NET)
From my 2016 Journal. A victim often asks the question, “Where were You, God, when the abuse happened?” In my experience, God seldom answers the “why” question immediately. Generally, there’s an emotion (often anger) standing in the way, behind the “why” that needs to be addressed first.
I believe it was Jesus’ humanity speaking when He asked, “Why have You, Abba Father, forsaken Me?” In my opinion, contrary to many preachers and songs that claim that the Father turned His back on His Son, God had NOT forsaken Him. Never! But in this moment of extreme physical torture, head throbbing from thirst, body in tatters, fighting to breathe, bruised and battered, His back on fire as it rubbed against the wood, three hours felt like an eternity. One minute would be more than the average man could handle. Minute by minute agony, waiting for the end to come. Wishing it to just be over.
Jesus had intimate communion with His Papa all along. He’d wrestled with His own will just twelve hours earlier and submitted to His Father’s plan. But in one’s pain, it’s hard to focus, to think, to use logic. The focus is all on the removal of pain.
“Where are You, Father? I can’t feel You near. I can’t see You or hear You.”
The abused take it a step further: “You could have chosen to stop it and You didn’t; what kind of a cruel God are You, anyway?”
Jesus’ anguished cry could not include sin or blasphemy or lies. “Why have You forsaken Me? It FEELS like You have.”
Jesus is quoting Psalm 22. The words, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” are only the first few words of verse one. The rest says, “I groan in prayer, but help seems far away.” (Note the word seems.)
Verse 19 declares, “But you, O LORD, do not remain far away! You are my source of strength! Hurry and help me!”
Jesus knew the whole Messianic Psalm by heart. It’s a Psalm of agony and truth, but it ends in triumph. Jesus knew this had to be His lot in order to fulfill prophecy. He did not have the physical strength to quote the entire Psalm, but He could begin it, and those Jews who heard it would immediately recognize its source and be able to fill in the rest.
The abuse victim cries out, “Where were You, God? Why did You forsake me?”
And the Father gently replies, “I was there all along.”