“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?”
Psalm 22:1 ESV
These words, originally penned by David, were a cry of despair and desperation toward God. Jesus echoed these words as He hung on the cross, bearing the guilt and sin of the entire world. God forsook him so that we would never be forsaken. Hell is the eternal separation of one’s soul from the presence of God. Christ endured that separation in our place.
Matthew 27:46, where Jesus repeats this cry of despair, is one of the most powerful and striking verses in the Bible, illustrating the sheer agony, pain, and despair that Christ suffered in our place. It is a completely unfathomable and alien notion that the eternal God Himself would suffer in our place. But that is all the more reason to thank God for this priceless gift of justification. God gives us His grace freely, not on account of our own merit. Grace is given freely to us, but was purchased for us through the most precious means imaginable: the blood of Jesus Christ, full God and full man, in our place.
When we face trials, temptations, and the pains of a sinful world, we can be tempted to feel as if God has forsaken us. But He has not forsaken us, nor will He ever forsake us. What proof do we have of this faithfulness? We point to the cross of Christ, saying, “There was the wrath of God outpoured. There was the punishment of God endured for us. There was and is the realization of our salvation. Because of this, God will not forsake us.”
When we feel as if God is distant, as if He has forgotten of us, we remember that His kingdom is not of this world. We remember how He claimed us through our baptism. Our fellowship with God does not waver with how we feel about Him. It does not shift along with the doubts we may have about His promises. It depends on Christ. And because it depends on Christ, we look to cross, where once and for all He proclaimed: “It is finished.“