Weekly Reflection (NEW!)
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Please read Psalm 22 in your Bible.
The Twenty-second Psalm begins, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (NRSV) Many since September 11 have asked this question: those who have been injured, the rescue workers, the grieving, and perhaps each of us. As the planes and buildings went down, we paused and lifted our eyes heavenward to at least mouth the question, "Why?" As in the Psalm we feel abandoned. We feel that our enemies have taken away something precious about our lives. We feel that there are those who are mocking us.
This Psalm is attributed to King David. While Saul was still king of Israel, David was becoming more powerful and popular as a leader. The people loved him. Saul recognized this threat to his throne and pursued David and his followers. David was forced to live in the hills and, for a time, with the enemy. He was cut off from his people and he felt cut off from his God. David asks the question, "Why?"
Jesus also quotes this same Psalm from the cross. As he is dying, Jesus cries out, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Jesus, the great teacher and wonder worker, was dying on a cross. In the midst of his suffering and despair, he cries out to God who seems to have abandoned him. God has left Jesus in the hands of his enemies and Jesus asks, "Why?"
But David is a person of faith. David knows about Godís steadfast love, promises, and faithfulness. David knows that God will not abandon him no matter how terrible the suffering will be; so the Psalm takes a turn. In the midst of suffering and crying out for help, there is thanksgiving and acclamations of faith. The Psalmist writes,
"From the horns of wild oxen you have rescued me. I will tell of your name to my brothers and sisters; in the midst of the great congregation I will praise you: You who fear the Lord, praise him! All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him; stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel! For he did not despise or abhor the affliction of the afflicted; he did not hide his face from me, but heard when I cried to him." (NRSV)
The Psalmist is a person of faith and claims Godís promises of love and faithfulness. No matter what happens, God is in charge. God will have the last say.
Jesus is a person of faith. Even on the cross in the throes of death and in the midst of asking, "Why?" Jesus recalls the whole psalm and goes to death clinging onto Godís steadfast love. God loves him back into life. Death, suffering, and abandonment did not have the last word. Godís gift of eternal life speaks last and loudest.
We, too, are people of faith. We are saddened. We feel abandoned. We are afraid. We are confused. But we will claim our faith. Godís gift of eternal life is for us too. We give praise to a God who hears when we cry out to God. We will turn to God "[f]or dominion belongs to the Lord, and he rules over the nations." (NRSV) Along with shouting out your anger and despair to God, shout of Godís faithfulness, steadfast love, and promises.
O people of faith, in the midst of fear and suffering, pray for the faith to claim our faith. Know that this is my prayer as well during these sad days.