Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. (Psalm 23:4, NIV)
The torrents of life have hit you hard. The days are long and the nights longer. I’m trying to understand. I’ve been through some tough times, but I can’t fathom the desperate panting of your soul as you cry out for relief. I don’t know what to say. There’s nothing I can do to alleviate your pain.
Then it occurs to me that, ultimately, you don’t have to depend on me. You never did, really. It’s the Christ in me, the Christ in you. The Jesus that I fall so short in emulating is alive in you too, as you well know. This is your opportunity to strengthen your faith, to take your newly improved faith for a test drive to see how your Jesus will save you yet again.
Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. (Ephesians 6:13, The Message)
You’ve stood long already, much of your success has been by your own strength. But, the Holy Spirit’s power is made perfect in your weakness. So it’s okay if you don’t feel up to the task. You’re actually in a great place.
It may feel like a large portion of your past had been ripped from you, that your future is now in question as well as your children’s. It’s not fair and it’s getting worse. Some of the heaviest burdens imaginable have been dumped on you, and you feel alone. Once again, you’re in good company bro.
At about three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” (Matthew 27:46, New Living Translation)
Here’s where your experience differs from that of your Lord.
Yes, at the highest point of his tumultuous experience the people closest to him didn’t have it in them to give him the support he needed. The disciples scattered. Yes, the people who had celebrated his arrival in the city the week before now wanted him dead in the worst way. Of course, one of his own, whom Jesus had spent three years of his life with and poured into, had betrayed Jesus to his doom. So Jesus cried out to God while enduring the additional suffering of the excruciating physical pain of the cross, asking the question he knew the answer to: “Why have you abandoned me?” You may feel the same way, wondering why God doesn’t seem to be around.
However, God actually did abandon Jesus on the cross. He gave his only son over to the second death – total absence of the Father – so that you don’t have to. Jesus won that victory and so you never have to fight it. You can stand tall because, though it may not feel like it, your Jesus will never leave you or forsake you.
Stand tall in the knowledge that this experience will end. Stand tall with the understanding that Jesus is in the business of redemption – making things right again. It may not happen in the next ten or even fifty years, but it will happen. And it will remain that way for eternity.
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)
Stand strong, brother. Because you can.