“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34; Matthew 27:46)
I am a little later than I had planned to be in writing to you about my 4th week of Lent. It has been a busy and fun visit with family for spring break, and you two have been so happy – running around and enjoying a lot of attention. But despite the excitement, I have been quite pensive, particularly regarding my spiritual journey and what it means in all areas of my life.
One thing I learned from reading the chapter from my Lenten study is that these words Jesus spoke were actually a quote from one of the psalms (Psalm 22). Scholars have come up with a few possible explanations for his use of these words in that moment on the cross, including the possibility that he was seeking comfort by speaking one of the psalms aloud, just as we might do by reciting our favorite poem or singing our favorite hymn. Other scholars point to the idea that Jesus was suffering and was lamenting to God over his physical pain, and that really, it was an act of faith in the worst of circumstances.
I don’t know if you have been in an extremely difficult situation yet as you read this in 2030. I know I have a few times – a situation where your despair is so difficult that it seems like you will never recover. But I find that we can go in one of two directions when the bottom is stripped from beneath us. One direction is to throw our hands up and deny God and try our best to take control of the situation, even if it means to take an unhealthy turn in an attempt to cope. The other is to allow ourselves to go through it – all the nasty stuff – with the knowledge that we are not alone. If this means saying these words of Jesus or by using our own colorful language, it is quite all right. In fact, it is an act of faith.
I’d like to share a particular difficult moment in my life. I am not going to share with you the details of what I was going through, but I will tell you that I had reached “the end of my rope” (please pardon the cliché). It was about ten years ago, which was around 2004. I remember it was raining heavily, my workday had just ended, and I was driving home. I was angry and completely finished with the personal struggles with which I was dealing. I cried and yelled at God. I held nothing back. I remember saying out loud, “I know I can’t escape problems in this life, but I’m done with these. It’s time you took these away and gave me a new set of problems.” Of course, I said a lot more, but that part I remember well. I also remember that I had quite an attitude about it. I was miffed.
I recall letting it go after that. I had surrendered it and chose to have faith that it would be worked out, as it was out of my hands. I remember how easy it all was and that there was really no other option but to let it go.
You know what? Those problems did go away. Within days. In almost miraculous ways. Looking back, it is still amazing to me, and I am still grateful today for my “new set of problems.”
It is okay to yell at God. Whatever the meaning was for Jesus in saying these words as he suffered on the cross, it was acceptable to him to use these words when he was reaching the end. So, it’s okay for us to use whatever works for us in order to give up and let go — to surrender and believe the truth that we aren’t alone.
Now my momma heart wants to believe that you two won’t have to go through anything so difficult that you will need to cry out in pain. I want to believe that you will grow up and realize that everything you touch turns to gold. Of course, I know this will not be the case, because as I said years ago while driving in the rain, we cannot escape problems in this life. And honestly, I know you wouldn’t be kind and compassionate if you never had a problem in your life. Therefore, I hope you will read this and remember it when you hit a really difficult time. Whether it is a problem or a loss, it is absolutely acceptable to cry out, yell out to God/the Universe. Then, my sons, you will feel relief when you recognize that the issue isn’t yours anymore since you will have given it away.
So, I know the whole idea of surrender isn’t easy — especially in a culture where everyone strives to achieve and create his or her destiny. Don’t get me wrong. I am all for that. I am all for making things happen, but in the weak moments and in the difficult ones over which we have absolutely no control, it is the way to go. The alternative just isn’t pretty. Trust me. I know what I’m talking about.
By the way, I’m still working on my “Why Jesus?” answer, but as I write more about my Lenten journey to you and allow myself to be completely vulnerable and honest, I’m getting closer.
Thanks for listening, my princes.
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