My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? - Jesus, on the crossThis year it is an especially urgent, focused question for me. This year, one thing weighs heavily on my mind: How do I offer support to someone who is asking that exact question? Someone I have known for a long time, but has always been skittish about church, has told me why: He blames God for his abuse during his early years at the hands of a vicious and sadistic parent. I will not go into details, but I will say: This is Good Friday, the day we look evil and human brokenness in the face. This grown man -- once a helpless child -- only had one question: Why had God forsaken him? If God protects us, why hadn't God protected him?
I know Jesus was much in the same situation: Innocent, but treated like dirt. Had the hatred of the hateful taken out on him, and blamed on him as if he had somehow caused it. Attacked and beaten without apology by those who thought they had right on their side. And not protected from it by God. Though with Jesus, at least, there was a greater good being accomplished, and for that he consented. As for the rest of us -- I have not heard of a greater good being accomplished by our being mistreated.
Of course this man blames the vicious and sadistic parent first of all. But he also blames his father, who didn't protect him as far as he can tell. And he also blames God, who didn't protect him as far as he can tell. Is it because he was "a worm and not a man", not worth protecting? "Worm" is probably kinder than anything his abuser called him.
For my own part, I have been on the receiving end of serious and intentional harm, too. And that's far from the whole of the evil I've received in this world. So I have struggled with similar questions. I expect many of us have struggled with that question: My God, why have you forsaken me?
I never did find an answer to the question, "Why have you forsaken me?" But I did find a willingness to trust Jesus, and then hope through him. It's because of Jesus that I know that suffering is not a sign that God has no love for us. It's because of Jesus that I know there is hope even after suffering injustice, brutality, and evil like that. And this hope is because of God's goodness.
It is God's goodness that makes it even more difficult to understand the evil around us.
May Jesus be blessed for joining the helpless, the despised, and the powerless. Without him, what hope would there be?