About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” ).Matthew 27:46
It amazes me that at the center of Christian faith, the death of Christ, is God the Son crying out that God isn’t there with Him. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
He didn’t respond in some super “manly” manner. He isn’t like Mel Gibson’s William Wallace crying with his last breathe “FREEDOM!” Or Russell Crowe’s Maximus in the moving Gladiator saying that he will have his vengeance in this life or the next. No “give me liberty or give me death” from the Son of Man. No, instead of dramatic heroism by Jesus, we see the God of Christianity hanging on a shameful cross pleading “God why aren’t you here?” By Jesus being there to ask that question Jesus has placed God in the middle of our suffering and our questions of God’s presence.
“Where was God when this happened?” It’s a phrase that runs true with so much of life. I am sure you have heard it before. I think most of us have asked it.
C.S. Lewis wrote:
God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.“The Problem of Pain”, p. 90
I think He is “rous[ing] a deaf world” to the fact that He is in the pain with us. We just often don’t know He is there already. Maybe it is because we are hoping for movie heroics rather than the God Who defeats evil by bearing the pain of its best shots. Maybe it is because we are so overwhelmed by the suffering that we can’t tell the face of the One Who freely chose to enter the suffering with us. I don’t know why I often can’t tell He is there in the midst of the pain. I just trust that He is there, and from what I have experienced in the passed I have every reason for that trust in Him being with me. Ebeneezer, thus far has the Lord brought us. He is Emmanuel, God with us, even when we suffer, hurt, and even when we shout “where are you?” The God Who has gone deep into the pain and evil in the world to say “where are you God,” has made it where He is with us when we asked that same question.
The Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel put it very well in his classic memoir “Night“:
Behind me, I heard the same man asking:
“For God’s sake, where is God?“
And from within me, I heard a voice answer:
“Where is He? This is where – hanging here from this gallows…““Night“, p. 86
Where are you God? I believe He is even in that question.