When life body slams us it’s not unusual to ask, Where are you, God? I’ve asked that question through the years: Sometimes in anger, sometimes in frustration, and sometimes from a place of deep sadness. I know I’m not alone in asking this question.
Jesus knew how it felt to be alone. Though He walked with His disciples for three years He was alone in understanding His mission on earth. Alone in the crowd. That’s one of toughest types of loneliness. But nothing compares to the sense of abandonment Jesus experienced as He hung on the cross.
It began the night before while He prayed and bled in Gethsemane. Jesus keenly felt His Father slowly withdraw Himself. In deep anguish Jesus begged Him to remove the cup of suffering. In those long moments Christ wrestled with the thought that nothing was worth the cost of losing His relationship with His Father for eternity. Except for. . . .
You and me.
Hours later, as He hung dying on the cross, Jesus cried out, “My God, My God! Why have You turned Your back on Me?” (Mark 15:34, TPT). Jesus experienced the depths of a despair we can never understand.
When Mary Magdalene arrives at the tomb on Sunday morning she finds it empty and hears an angel say, “I know you’re here looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He isn’t here” (Mark 16:6, TPT).
He isn’t here.
We understand Mary’s pain—if we’re honest—for there have been dark moments in our own lives when we’ve felt abandoned by God. When it seems as though He has turned His back on us.
Years ago, a friend experienced a dark night of sorrow. His only son attempted suicide while studying abroad. I was there shortly after he’d received the news. He flew out immediately to be with his son and through a series of miracles the young man survived. Before he could be released from hospital, the laws of the country required him to spend the night in a pysch ward for evaluation. My friend asked to spend the night with his son, to hold his hand through the pain, but his request was denied. His son would spend the night alone.
Unable to endure being apart from his boy, my friend spent that long night sitting on the floor, his back pressed against the door that separated him from his son. “I’m not going anywhere,” he told him. “I’ll be on the other side of the door. I’ll be here in the morning to take you home.”
It’s in those awful moments, when we feel abandoned by God, that we need to hold on tightly in faith. The angel finishes his message to Mary, “He isn’t here—He has risen victoriously!” (Mark 16:6, TPT).
We have not been abandoned! He tells us, “For a little while you will not see Me—but I will always be with you. I’ll be on the other side of the door and I’ll be here on that morning to take you Home!”
Maranatha, my friends! It won’t be long!