Ps. 22: You Are Not Forsaken

The solitary figure of a man stands at the entrance to a tunnel.

Psalm 22 poses the question that many of us are asking right now. "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" In the midst of a terrible pandemic; as we protest against a racist system of false justice that persecutes those it is meant to protect; we ask, “Where Is God?” It is a cry of abandonment, a shriek of rage, a confession of terror, a beating of hand on breast, head on wall and lament – “I cry by day, but you do not answer; and by night, but find no rest.” We mourn 200,000 lost to a carelessly handled disease, and we ask how long, as our cries to remake our justice system fall on ignorant, defiantly deaf ears. Dogs all around, evil-doers surround, they mock, they taunt, they gloat as they ask us what we are asking ourselves – “Where is your God?”, and its corollary question: “Who will help you now?” 

Even amidst the dimmest shadows of this moment, the psalmist extends a special message to each one of us. Harken to the voice that is calling from the deep, whose power is life, whose wisdom knows no boundaries. Listen to that still small voice, that has been with you from your very beginning speaking directly to you. You, who feel alone; you, who feel abandoned; you, who feel threatened on all sides; you, who feel your strength has run out; you, who is wondering if there is any hope in the midst of all the terror and death. The words of the psalmist cried into the night from long ago, stretch towards you, written for just this time when you need to hear the testimony, the promise, the truth: You are not alone and are not forsaken. 

The cry at the beginning of the Psalm 22 holds specific meaning for Christians, as Jesus echoes these most human words, “Why have you forsaken me” when he was crucified on the cross for the crime of proclaiming of a radically new realm, founded on God’s justice, mercy, and peace. One of the lessons from hearing the words from Jesus’ mouth is solidarity. Jesus, a brown skinned Jew, shouts out in anguish, using language from the Psalms that resound over the millennia. Jesus is one human among thousands, millions, billions over the years whose heart has been melted like wax, whose life blood has been poured out like water. And the story of Jesus, and the promise of the psalmist, is that those who would break us, who would scorn us, who would diminish, humiliate or destroy us, will never have the final victory. 

We will not lose, because we are not alone. Psalm 22 remind us, over and over, of our intimacy with God, even while calling us to intimacy with one another. We hear our neighbor’s voice in all who cry out with us, with whom we are called to join together, and to reject the forces of death and destruction and demand: More life! 

We are not alone. We feel our kinship form as our spirits rise, joining one another in the streets, masks on, fists up. We feel our hearts healing as the love of our friends wash over us even as we mourn our losses in community. We know that we are not alone, when we listen to the psalmist remind each one of us that we are precious to this world, that God calls each one of us by name, willing us to be who are meant to be here right now. Praise God for reminding us that we are never abandoned, never without God’s deliverance. Look up, look around, see what God has for you right now, and be comforted, and comfort your neighbor with a Divine word: Fear not, for I am with you. Stand up and stare down those who would destroy and gently, kindly put your hand in your beloved’s and walk together forward towards the promised land.

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The opinions contained in this piece are solely the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Interfaith Youth Core. Interfaith America encourages a wide range of views and strives to maintain a respectful tone with a goal of greater understanding and cooperation between people of different faiths, worldviews, and traditions.