April 5

Matthew 27:45-54

“And about three o’clock Jesus cried with a loud voice, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’” vs. 46

Matthew and Mark report that Jesus’ only words from the cross echoed Psalm 22 and reflected his deep distress and sense of alienation. He felt deserted by God, a deep irony given his identification as the Good Shepherd, the one who leads us through the valley of deep darkness. But perhaps that’s the key to understanding the comfort that comes our way from him in our own encounters with distress and despair. He can lead the way because he knows the path so well–he’s been there before us. We don’t have a Lord who speculates about what it’s like to feel pain and know suffering, we have a Lord who knows death first hand. So it’s no wonder that in those moments when hope fades and faith seems fragile, we can snuggle right up to Jesus, and feel his strong arms hold us close. Some people have reported that what had been an intellectual acquaintance with faith became intensely personal when the bottom dropped out of their world and a sense of forsakenness spread over them. In those moments they became aware, and said to themselves, “So this is what it was like for Jesus!” Those are powerful, faith-building times, not ones to be sought after–no one seeks that sort of pain–but times in which we feel unity with our Lord and Savior. And somehow, in a strange sort of way, it just feels good!

Thought for the Day: A time of despair that felt good!

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