When You Need to Find God
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
It’s the cry of Jesus on the cross.
It’s the cry of every human heart in the depths of their suffering.
Where are you, God, when it hurts?
“The Psalms,” writes Jan Richardson, “give voice to the full range of human emotion. Desire, rage, hope, vindictiveness, love, despair: nearly everything we are capable of… The psalms incorporate it all, with no visible fear of judgement for bringing their emotions into God’s presence.” By using a psalm as he cries out on the cross, Jesus underscores the acceptable nature of all our emotions. He voices his feelings of pain and abandonment without pretence or politeness. There is nothing fake here, only raw honesty before God.
We so often want to skip the next few days and get to the joy of the resurrection. But without real, gritty, painful death, there can be no hope of true resurrection. Without death, there is no miracle, no restoration, no new beginning. There are only smoke and mirrors, tape and glue, shadows and cheap conjuring tricks.
The Easter story, however, acknowledges the reality of death. It invites us to sit with our suffering and disappointment. It holds space for our pain and gives us time to grieve our losses. It gives room for our deepest questions:
Do you see me, God?
Do you see my pain?
Do you know how I’ve been abandoned and rejected?
Do you notice the injustices going on in your world?
Have you left because of my failure and disgrace?
Can you see that I’m anxious and afraid?
Where are you, God?
The Easter story lets us see where Jesus is. He is down in the dirt, tending gently to our sore, muddy feet. He is at the table, tearing up bread to satisfy our hunger, pouring out wine to quench our thirst. He is on the cross, singing our song of abandonment, fully understanding all the ways we’ve been hurt and broken.
Death can come to us in big ways, but it also comes to us in many small ways, over and over again. By facing into our pain, we also face into the presence of Jesus, God with us. Blessed are those who mourn, he said, for they will be comforted. Death is a reality, but it is not the final word. Our pain, if we let it, can become an altar where we can meet with God and find that he will never leave us or forsake us. He holds all things in his hands, even the pieces of our broken hearts; and he will make all things new.
Thanks be to God.