And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” – Matthew 27:46
The fourth utterance from our LORD Jesus Christ. I had uttered these very words so many times in my life. As I was struggling with depression, I had to battle loneliness so many times. There would be so many people around me, laughing with me, but the wounds in my heart would tear me apart and this would be the silent cry from the heart, and at times, there were some feral screams too.
So, when I started to meditate on the Passion of our Lord, it bothered me. I was a sinner. I am imperfect. My heart rebels against God. So, I can understand if the LORD forsakes me. But why would Jesus Christ, the only Son of God utter these words in anguish?
Because God made Jesus who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. – 2 Corinthians 5:21.
Oh, now it makes sense. Jesus cried out because it was supposed to be me. It was I who was supposed to be forsaken. Instead, Jesus was made to be sin for us, that the Most Holy God, Who does not look at sin, had to forsake Jesus.
The love of God our Father Who was ready to hide His face from His only Son. The love of Jesus Christ, our Saviour and the Son of God, Who was ready to be forsaken for us. Is there any way to understand such a love? Especially when I think about the sin that has lived in me. For me. And because Jesus took my place and was forsaken, I know that promise the Lord gave me, when He brought me with a mighty hand into His fold, will never fail: I will never leave you nor forsake you.
As I was struggling with sin, it was very difficult for me to come into the presence of the LORD to seek His guidance. I was pulled in all the directions. Though many times I had dedicated my whole self – my soul, my spirit, my body and my mind – to God, I fell back into sin.
Of course, I did have my own excuses for falling into sin. “I am falling into sin, because my flesh is used to that. Once my flesh is crucified with Christ, sin shall have no dominion over me.” Except, I had crucified my flesh with Christ innumerable times.
In between, I had this trouble: am I waging a lonely battle that I am certain to lose? Will I lose my redemption? As I was struggling with these thoughts, I came across this Christian classic: “Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners” by John Bunyan. (If you want a free copy of this book, click on the book cover on the left or here.)
I was surprised to find that one of the great Christian saints had to struggle so much with sin and that I am not alone in this struggle. Most importantly, it is not a battle I am meant to lose.
Meanwhile, I was getting warnings from my preachers and every one who knew me and who knew my struggle with sin. Shockingly, the more warning I received, the hardened became my heart. That scared me a lot. Why am I not scared of the punishment I was going to get? Why is my heart so hardened?
As the internal struggle went on and on, the less time I spent on reading the Bible. But one day, I finally took the Bible and started reading. And I was so sure that the LORD is going to speak to me through His Word and reprimand me for my stubbornness.
God did speak to me through His Word, but surely not in the way I was expecting. HE spoke to me through the first part of Isaiah 5:4.
What more could have been done to My vineyard that I have not done in it? (MKJV)
In those words, I didn’t hear the commanding and booming voice of our LORD. But I heard the plaintive voice of Jesus as He cried, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani”… “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
I heard Jesus asking in a plaintive voice, “What more could I do for you?”
I didn’t sense any rebuke in that voice… instead I saw the grace that was in His eyes when He looked on Peter after he denied Christ thrice (Luke 22:61).
And that love and mercy, the grace and the pain in that voice, broke my heart. With no second thoughts, I left that sin then and there and moved on.
For, what more could Jesus do for me? HE endured so much suffering for me. HE died for me. HE gave His life for me. HE even shed His last drop of blood for me. And, HE is still interceding for me. What more could Jesus do for me?
And whenever temptation comes across my way, my soul asks only one question: what more could Jesus do for me?
… Horror has overwhelmed me. – Psalm 55:5
My dear friend, is a sense of foreboding overwhelming you? Are things going so bad that you are scared of what will happen by the end of today? As you go to sleep, are you hoping that no one notices the tears that are flowing from your eyes? Do you wish that every time you go to sleep be the last time you have seen light? And you are thinking that this sense of horror is overwhelming your soul so much, that you wish death comes to you instead.
David underwent the same. Fear and trembling filled his body and soul. And when he looked around, all he could see was horror. The original word “overwhelming” actually means “covered with”. Yes, David was covered with horror. He was filled with a sense of foreboding that something really, really bad was going to happen.
If you are feeling that way, then there is only one way to overcome this overwhelming horror. Let us follow the advice of David:
Cast your burden, the burden of overwhelming horror, on our LORD Jesus Christ and He will sustain you. – Psalm 55:22
Yes, our LORD Jesus Christ will sustain you, for He knows what you are undergoing. Let us go back to Gethsemane.
In the loneliness of Gethsemane, our LORD Jesus felt greatly distressed and was very troubled – just like how we are feeling today. Jesus Himself says about it in the next verse:
My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death… – Mark 14:34
Isn’t that what you are undergoing right now? Take heart, dear friend, our LORD knows what you are undergoing. And, Jesus, the Son of God, suffered that pain, underwent that heartbreaking sense of horror, because He wanted to taste it, He wanted to bring victory to you – through His sufferings and death.
There were so many times I had undergone these overwhelming sense of horrors and it would last with me for days. But then, I started to look at Gethsemane, the loneliness our LORD felt. I meditated on the sufferings of our LORD at Calvary. And, when I heard the feeble voice crying out,
“My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” – Mark 15:34,
I knew that my Savior had carried the horror that overwhelms on His shoulders. I knew that He has brought us victory through His sufferings and death.
Nothing, no darkness on earth, no horror that your enemy that devises against you can stop you from looking at the Calvary, at the Cross and at our LORD Jesus Christ who has given us victory. Cast this burden on Him and He has already done everything that has to be done to sustain you. You will conquer this overwhelming horror, because, dear friend, when you look at Calvary, you will see that
“It is finished.” (John 19:30)
|Philippians 2:3-4“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”
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