Cross Words #4

Matthew 27:45-49
45 From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. 46 About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”-which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
47 When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.”
48 Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink. 49 The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.”

In this moment Jesus experienced a depth of grief that the Christian will never have to endure – the utter hopelessness of abandonment even by God. Darkness – as though the sun itself and all creation could not bear the sight of what was happening.  For the first time in all eternity the Son was separated from the Father, rejected by Him because of our sin.  Jesus, who always referred to God as “Father” became sin for us and can no longer use that term of affection and relationship.  As one abandoned and alone He can only cry out to the distant God.In His time of greatest pain Jesus’ cry is misunderstood.  Some respond by trying to do something, anything, to help.  Others, content just to watch, leave him alone in his hurt and pain. When we are hurting people often misunderstand us.  Some will try to help and, while well-meaning, they often say and do things that only intensify our hurt – give us bitter vinegar.  Others, feeling awkward with our pain and not knowing how to respond, do nothing  causing us to feel further isolated and alone.  When we are hurting it is vital we guard our hearts and not take offense at those who do unhelpful things or those who appear to abandon us in our time of need.

Often those who have been “hurt by the church” picked up an offense when other Christians didn’t respond properly in a time of need.  While it would be wonderful if we all knew what to do when a friend is hurting the reality is Christians are just people – like you and me.  We all say hurtful things -sometimes intentionally and sometimes out of pure ignorance and a desire to help.  We all do unhelpful things – give someone vinegar to assuage their pain.  Or, feeling self-conscious ourselves and not knowing what to say or do, we just avoid the hurting person compounding their pain.

In times of pain it is crucial we guard our hearts against anger or bitterness toward others and, as Jesus did, cry out to God.  With no pretense or faux spirituality Jesus honestly expressed His questions, His anguish and hurt to the Father.  We can, too.   Keep your heart pure toward others and be open and transparent with the Father.
1 Peter 2:21-24
Christ, who suffered for you, is your example. Follow in his steps: He never answered back when insulted; when he suffered he did not threaten to get even; he left his case in the hands of God who always judges fairly.

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