Tuesday, March 8, 2016

God, Why Did You Forsake Me?

Have you ever been let down? Been abandoned? Felt betrayed? Of course, you have. We all have experienced feelings of betrayal, disappointment, and abandonment by others. The three feelings mentioned here are like stairs on ladders that we have all found ourselves on at different times in our life, and often perpetrated by various people, sometimes on several occasions. Each stair is like a descending escalator slipping us into a dark basement of disillusionment and distrust.

We are often told that pain and suffering at the hands of people have a greater purpose. But why? And How? What possible good purpose could the irresponsible act of letting someone down who depended on you, or abandoning them bring?

In the story of Lazarus, Jesus' friend in the Bible, I suppose Lazarus sister, Martha felt the same way. Martha was disappointed that Jesus let her brother die. I sympathize with her disappointment because Jesus was very enthusiastic in healing people all over the place, many that he didn't know personally. Why couldn't Jesus heal his friend Lazarus? The sickness was reported to him in enough time for Jesus to go and simply put his healing hand on him, or even just to speak the healing word like he had done for a stranger once before. Martha was a dedicated volunteer in Jesus' ministry. That could be felt like a betrayal to her and her family, who were all close to Jesus.

How many times do we feel like God has let us down so hard? Abandoned us when we know he could have easily corrected our situation?

When we look at these questions from a realization of our personal concerns and needs, then we can only answer with feelings of hurt and anger. However, when we look at those same questions from a more panoramic view of the problems and needs of society, then it is possible to comprehend a greater purpose. You see, God sees everything as an investment in people.

Jesus once said, "...except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone. But if it die, it brings forth much fruit."-St. John 12:24

The world is full of sorrow and despair. God loves to use individuals and individual incidents to bring hope and deliverance to a greater number of people. The same way he chose to let Lazarus die so that he can raise him from the dead rather than heal him from a sickness, is why God will very often allow situations to die in order to unfold a greater purpose in mankind. We can only embrace this truth if we see ourselves as more of a universal unit, comprised of a society of people where we are part of a body, not an individual part.

We are not made for ourselves but must see ourselves as seeds in the earth. We are seeds that are planted for the well- being of a whole garden. We must live our life as an offering, and look at not only our talents as a gift to society, but also our struggles as an offering.

Pain and suffering are often used as an investment on behalf of a greater cause.

Sometimes, our individual cries are a cry of society's pain.

Scripture teaches us that when Jesus walked the earth among us, He was tempted in all the ways that we are and is familiar with the pain and struggle we experience on a daily basis. He too experienced betrayal and abandonment. God allowed him to feel "forsaken" while Jesus hung there on the cross, in his darkest moment, weak and stripped of his popularity and ministry.

When he cried out in his humanity, "My God, My God, Why hast thou forsaken me;" he cried out the pain of all mankind that often feels forsaken by God in our darkest moments. Again, very often our individual cries are a cry of society's pain. The Apostle Paul spoke of this phenomenon to the Corinthian Church when he noted that all of our personal struggles are common struggles among civilization. When one person in New Mexico experiences the death of a family member via a car accident, someone else in Maine experienced the same loss. A  woman suffering betrayal in South Carolina will feel the same emotional pain as a woman in Russia who experienced betrayal. A man suddenly becoming homeless in New York City is just as painful as a sudden onset of homelessness by a man in Brazil. As Jesus did on the cross, when we cry out for ourselves, we must also learn to recognize the simultaneous pain of society and cry out to God on behalf of universal deliverance.

Whenever we experience death and loss, we must remember that we are not alone in our suffering. There must be those among us that will universalize their suffering also to feel the pain of others with similar experiences. Let us notice that often people who have suffered loss through tragedy or injustice, will translate their loss into advocacy for others either with similar experiences or similar vulnerabilities to their loss. One great example is Nicole Paultre Bell, former fiance of the late Sean Bell, who died at the hand of New York City Police officers in 2006. Paultre Bell translated her pain into advocacy by becoming an activist, organizer, and founding an organization to assist families experiencing injustice. Michael J. Fox, an actor, diagnosed with Parkinsons, started a foundation to help eliminate the disease. Judy Van Niekerk grew up being physically and sexually abused by her father, forced to be his wife from age six until she was 20 years old when she finally escaped. Judy forgave her father, experienced healing and became a best-selling author, inspirational speaker, mentor, and entrepreneur. She spends her life teaching others how to celebrate their challenges. The list can go on. Using our pain and suffering to intercede and advocate, whether through prayer, advocacy, inspiration, or other channels can not only help us to rise out of despair but can also help others to rise. When we engage our pain in this way, God, in his faithfulness, will always cause us to rise by the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the grave. For this same reason, may we learn to follow the example of Jesus, as we are commanded to do his works, and cry out to God the same pain that is felt by the people of this earth.

When Jesus cried out,  "My God, My God, Why hast thou forsaken me;" he not only cried out regarding his own pain, but he was identifying with the feelings of abandonment we all feel at times. We often feel and cry out  about God forsaking the earth and allowing all of this evil to take place. The evil that will sometimes take away a loved one that we may judge should not have been taken away just yet. As he set the example in his cry for us and commanded us to "pick up our cross" also, we must in turn learn to cry out in our pain regarding others experiencing the same or similar.

This kind of intervention is our inheritance. It is an intercession on behalf of other parts of the universal body of mankind. Until we fulfill our true and full inheritance in carrying out this sacred obligation, we fall short of discipleship, while yet being full of religion. Cry out the pain of mankind and let your groanings rise to God as a memorial to him. Not only will he hear, but he will send deliverance.  A  Moses can enter your life through a situational rescue, or through an emotional rescue by a simple enlightenment or a profound healing that will inspire others.
When you experience disappointment, abandonment, or what seems like betrayal from God, or individuals, remember that you are not alone.
Don't forget to use that pain to empathize with others that may come across your path, or may not come across your path. Empathize with other parts of the body of mankind that experience abandonment or betrayal, or some other pain. If you are a person of prayer, then intercede in prayer. If you are a person of advocacy, advocate through whatever vehicle you have at your disposal. Whatever you offer, let your empathy rise to meet your fellow mankind where it is needed.
If you groan for others with your empathetic spirit, God hears those groans, and you align yourself with God's universal principle of the royal law: Do unto others, as you would have done unto you.

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