Debbie Salter Goodwin
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Matthew 27:46b
The scene cannot be adequately described even though we try. Three crosses with three men in utter agony. Blood streaked bodies writhing, gasping for precious oxygen. Each knows that death will come, but not soon enough. Jesus receives no pass for pain. But it is not the pain that makes him speak. It is his feeling of utter abandonment, a separation, a darkness he has not known. In the desert and in Gethsemane, angels came. Today there are no angels, no reprieve, no rescue.
When he speaks, his words come staccato but clear enough to be recorded. He asks the question that beats in our hearts about endless situations that turn against us. The three letter question has paralyzed lives, confused the best of us, and sent many to come up with their own answers that malign the character of God. “Why?” Jesus asked. “Why have you left me?”
We ask why. Why the cancer? Why Alzheimer’s? Why now? What truly answers the why of a broken-hearted person living through a dark place? Somehow we think that answers to why questions lead to acceptance. But they don’t; they just lead to more unanswerable questions.
Does it offer any comfort to know that Jesus asked why?
This was not when the heavens opened and the dove descended and the voice proclaimed, “This is my beloved son.” Jesus received the same answer we receive: silence.
It’s not that we can’t ask why. After all, Jesus did. It’s just that the answers won’t help us as much as we think they will. There are better questions. How is one. How will I make it? How will you help me? How is a question God loves to answer. He comes to us in the tangle of our unanswered why’s to stay with us until we are ready to ask how.
Jesus’ example reminds us that he did not turn away from his Father because of the silence. Eventually, he came to the place we all must come, to leave ourselves and our why’s in the hands of our God who knows what we really need and what the answer to why will not give.
Is there a why question you can’t get past? Remember the cross and begin to ask how.