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Despair in the Hands of God

      "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? 
      Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?
      O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer,
      and by night, but I find no rest.
      Yet you are holy,
      enthroned on the praises of Israel.
      In you our fathers trusted;
      they trusted, and you delivered them.
      To you they cried and were rescued;
      in you they trusted and were not put to shame.
      But I am a worm and not a man,
      scorned by mankind and despised by the people.
      All who see me mock me;
      they make mouths at me; they wag their heads;
      “He trusts in the LORD; let him deliver him;
      let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”
      Yet you are he who took me from the womb;
      you made me trust you at my mother’s breasts.
      On you was I cast from my birth,
      and from my mother’s womb you have been my God.
      Be not far from me,
      for trouble is near,
      and there is none to help.
      Many bulls encompass me;
      strong bulls of Bashan surround me;
      they open wide their mouths at me,
      like a ravening and roaring lion.
      I am poured out like water,
      and all my bones are out of joint;
      my heart is like wax;
      it is melted within my breast;
      my strength is dried up like a potsherd,
      and my tongue sticks to my jaws;
      you lay me in the dust of death.
      For dogs encompass me;
      a company of evildoers encircles me;
      they have pierced my hands and feet—
      I can count all my bones—
      they stare and gloat over me;
      they divide my garments among them,
      and for my clothing they cast lots.
      But you, O LORD, do not be far off!
      O you my help, come quickly to my aid!
      Deliver my soul from the sword,
      my precious life from the power of the dog!
      Save me from the mouth of the lion!
      You have rescued me from the horns of the wild oxen!
      I will tell of your name to my brothers;
      in the midst of the congregation I will praise you

      You who fear the LORD, praise him!
      All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him,
      and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
      For he has not despised or abhorred
      the affliction of the afflicted,
      and he has not hidden his face from him,
      but has heard, when he cried to him.
      From you comes my praise in the great congregation;
      my vows I will perform before those who fear him.
      The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied;
      those who seek him shall praise the LORD!
      May your hearts live forever!
      All the ends of the earth shall remember
      and turn to the LORD,
      and all the families of the nations
      shall worship before you.
      For kingship belongs to the LORD,
      and he rules over the nations.
      All the prosperous of the earth eat and worship;
      before him shall bow all who go down to the dust,
      even the one who could not keep himself alive.
      Posterity shall serve him;
      it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation;
      they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn,
      that he has done it
." (Psalm 22)

 
    How often is this our prayer to God? These words of David ring in the ears of many people who struggle with the difficulties of life. Up until this point in his life David spent many nights on the run, being hunted by King Saul who believed David would usurp him as king. He spent many sleepless nights alone in the wilderness, hiding in caves, roaming the countryside staying just ahead of the men who were coming to kill him. Waking and sleeping he was in constant fear for his life often not knowing where his next meal would come from. On some occasions he knew just how close he had come to death and narrowly escaped. In these moments even the great King of Israel and poet of the Old Testament felt alone and struggled with whether God had left him to die at the hands of his enemies.
 
    Our Lord quotes this Psalm in His time on the cross before all the people standing around Him. They hear His anguished cry of "Eli Eli lama sabachthani" (My God My God, why have you forsaken me?) and immediately know the Psalm. His agony under the wrath of God was excruciating, a greater agony than any man has ever experienced in his life. Being abandoned, scourged, beaten, hanging in the heat of the day struggling to breathe. Thirsty, He tried to get a drink and had vinegar burning his cracked and bleeding lips. His hearers would have heard this song in synagoge since they were children, and they all knew the story of David. They saw the fear and agony and heard the pain in His cry.

    But I call your attention to the finale of our Psalm. Though David cries out in fear and pain, he does so in faith. He cries out to the Righteous One, the Holy One, his Defender and Redeemer. He abolishes his own fear in the face of the Almighty who stands beside him. Hunger, restlessness, even death itself is nothing in the hands of our God. This is echoed in Christ's usage of the Psalm in His crucifixion. It is the prophetic  imagery in David's song, the victorious tones at the close, that the God-man wants to call to our memory.
 
    In their darkest moments, these heroes of the faith knew that God is in control. They call Him 'My God', and know that He has not left them alone. Whether you are struggling to pay bills, wondering where to sleep at night, when your next meal could be, your child or spouse is in pain, or even facing death itself, there is strength to be had in the arms of our Lord. There is purpose in your pain, and the counsel of God secures that our suffering is not in vain or empty. He is our strength and our victory. Our God is never far from each of us when we cry out to Him for rescue. 
 
Topics: Pristine Grace
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