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Our Suffering, our Doubts, and Jesus’s Struggle at the Cross. A Good friday Devotion


clydes-cross-2Devotional Thought for Good Friday:
1  My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Why are you so far away when I groan for help? 2  Every day I call to you, my God, but you do not answer. Every night you hear my voice, but I find no relief.    Psalm 22:1-2 (NLT)

22  Here’s the story I’ll tell my friends when they come to worship, and punctuate it with Hallelujahs: 23  Shout Hallelujah, you God-worshipers; give glory, you sons of Jacob; adore him, you daughters of Israel. 24  He has never let you down, never looked the other way when you were being kicked around. He has never wandered off to do his own thing; he has been right there, listening. 25  Here in this great gathering for worship, I have discovered this praise-life. And I’ll do what I promised right here in front of the God-worshipers.   Psalm 22:22-25 (MSG)

He is pleased to withhold from us the milk and honey of his consolation, that, by weaning us in this manner, we may learn to feed on the more dry and solid bread of vigorous devotion, exercised under the trial of distaste and spiritual dryness. 3. That as violent temptations frequently arise amidst these desolating drynesses, we must resolutely fight against them, since they do not proceed from God; but nevertheless, we must patiently suffer them, since God has ordained them for our exercise.

The Bible tells us that Jesus was tested in every way we are, that he faced the same issues, the same temptations, the same situations which can cause us to doubt, or to want to run.

We see that today, in the passage that Jesus quotes from the cross.

He too had moments where the Father seemed to far away, where the illusion of being abandoned was strong.  Where the feeling that God has left us on our own to struggle dominated every other feeling we have.

I’ve often wondered why God allows us to go through these times.  Surely they don’t come from God, yet St Francis de Sales indicates they are ordained by God for our exercise.  God allows them to come upon us, as He did Job and Jesus, for a purpose.

IN Jesus case, the abandonment was seen for what it was, a pouring out of wrath that far exceeded the wrath of the Pharisees, Sanhedrin, and the Roman guards.  A wrath that one taken upon Jesus would kill him, yet like the grain in the sand, it would give life to us, and to all those who believe and are baptized.

In our case, the suffering intended to defeat us, intended to drive us away from God can and does (eventually) ordain for us to be drawn toward Him.   De Sales calls this being drawn a vigorous devotion, I beg to differ a little.  Like the psalmist I look at my own pain, my own suffering to early, to often, being drawn down into the darkness, being overwhelmed by the pain.  But there He rescues me, He reminds me of HIs love, He shows me that He was always with me.

This is the point David is making in the Psalm, which starts out so dark, which so describes the pain of being crucified or struggling today.  The point where we can see as the light shatters the darkness, as our faith, no even more sure of God’s presences testifies to naturally, without even thinking.  read it again,

22  Here’s the story I’ll tell my friends when they come to worship, and punctuate it with Hallelujahs: 23  Shout Hallelujah, you God-worshipers; give glory, you sons of Jacob; adore him, you daughters of Israel. 24  He has never let you down, never looked the other way when you were being kicked around. He has never wandered off to do his own thing; he has been right there, listening. 25  Here in this great gathering for worship, I have discovered this praise-life. And I’ll do what I promised right here in front of the God-worshipers.   Psalm 22:22-25 (MSG)

When we are struggling, when Satan and his minions are oppressing us, when all seems dark, this is what is true.  He is with you, He loves you, and you will soon be praising Him as the Holy Spirit convinces you of this reality.   Like the cross, the victory, the depth of God’s love is revealed in these trying moments, in the midst of the pain, and the darkness.  We then see the truth;

You weren’t abandoned, He was there… and you will tell others about this!

AMEN!

Francis de Sales, Saint. An Introduction to the Devout Life. Dublin: M. H. Gill and Son, 1885. Print.

When Darkness Hides God’s Face…and all hope


Devotional/Discussion Thought of the Day:

 1   My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? I have cried desperately for help, but still it does not come. 2  During the day I call to you, my God, but you do not answer; I call at night, but get no rest.  Psalm 22:1-2 (TEV)

 “When darkness seems to hide His face, I rest on His unchanging grace. In every high and stormy gale, My anchor holds within the veil.

His oath, His covenant, His blood, Support me in the whelming flood. When all around my soul gives way, He then is all my Hope and Stay. ” (1)

There are days when I could be easily convinced that our present time is more oppressed than any other time in history.  The traumas and tragedies just seem to keep coming, the days and week just seem to bring more people, dealing with more pain.  It doesn’t matter whether the trauma is natural (i.e. getting older, physical or mental illness) or self-inflicted, or the oppression caused by another. (the latter two relate to the damage of sin and narcissism/self idolatry) The trauma exists, the pain is real, the tears and groans all too.. overwhelming.

If I look at the hymns of the past – whether the Psalms in Old Testament times such as Psalm 22, or hymns across the ages, I find the same weariness, the same brokenness, the same tears, the same despair.

And the same answer.

A God whom those who cry out to in despair, find themselves worshipping, praising, adoring, as they find rest, peace, and yes healing in God.  I am not saying these battles are easy, or quick, for they never area.  But the darkness that seems to hide God’s face, the overwhelming flood that seeks to destroy us, will not stand against God.  It can’t, anymore than the gates of hell can hold against Christ’s incarnation.  Even though there are days where it may feel like we cannot go on, it is God’s love that will sustain us.

For God has not hid himself, He always will be there, for He promised to, and His presence will sustain us.

The Psalm quoted above finds the one who questioned God’s presence finding resolution and finding God’s presence.  Here is where the Psalm ends:

22  I will tell my people what you have done; I will praise you in their assembly: 23  “Praise him, you servants of the LORD! Honor him, you descendants of Jacob! Worship him, you people of Israel! 24  He does not neglect the poor or ignore their suffering; he does not turn away from them, but answers when they call for help.” 25  In the full assembly I will praise you for what you have done; in the presence of those who worship you I will offer the sacrifices I promised. 26  The poor will eat as much as they want; those who come to the LORD will praise him. May they prosper forever! 27  All nations will remember the LORD. From every part of the world they will turn to him; all races will worship him. 28  The LORD is king, and he rules the nations. 29  All proud people will bow down to him; all mortals will bow down before him. 30  Future generations will serve him; they will speak of the Lord to the coming generation. 31  People not yet born will be told: “The Lord saved his people.”  Psalm 22:22-31 (TEV)

Likewise – rejoicing in the work of Christ, the hymn resolves,

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found,
Clothed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne!
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

May you find His faithfulness, His righteousness, His peace sustaining you this morning.. for it is there – and it always has been.

God’s peace is yours – because He has born our sorrows, our griefs, our sins, as He walks with us. For that is how Jesus, who was crucified for you, ministers to you as you journey with Him.

English: Icon of Jesus Christ

English: Icon of Jesus Christ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Even on Mondays.

 

(1)  2nd and 3rd verses of “On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand”

 

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