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Jesus, suffering, still addressed “my God”

February 12, 2022

Daily Scripture

John 16:32-17:1; Mark 15:34

John 16:32-17:1

32 Look! A time is coming—and is here!—when each of you will be scattered to your own homes and you will leave me alone. I’m not really alone, for the Father is with me. 33 I’ve said these things to you so that you will have peace in me. In the world you have distress. But be encouraged! I have conquered the world.”

17:1 When Jesus finished saying these things, he looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, so that the Son can glorify you.

Mark 15:34

34 At three, Jesus cried out with a loud shout, “Eloi, eloi, lama sabachthani,” which means, “My God, my God, why have you left me?”

Daily Reflection & Prayer

John wrote that, on the night before he went to the cross, Jesus plainly told his followers, “In the world you have distress. [Not “in the world your life will be easy.”] But be encouraged! I have conquered the world.” He began his chapter 17 prayer remarkably, saying, “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son.” We could overlook the fact that “the time has come” pointed to the Romans’ crude means of execution, the cross, as the setting in which God would “glorify” Jesus. It didn’t feel glorifying. Jesus quoted Psalm 22:1 (another “lament”) on the cross to express his agonizing sense of separation from God. Yet Psalm 22 moved from despair to hope (“I offer praise in the great congregation because of you”—Psalm 22:25). Clearly Jesus wasn’t literally reciting the whole 31-verse psalm (that was physically impossible on a cross). But he likely had the whole psalm, not just its first verse, in his mind. Even feeling forsaken, he spoke directly to “my God.”

  • Many people in Jesus’ day, and in ours, think (maybe subconsciously) that “being good” should be a kind of “suffering insurance.” Jesus didn’t see it that way. How do you react to his honesty: “In the world you have distress”? How can you live into the flip side of his teaching—“be encouraged” because he’s conquered the world? Luke said Jesus quoted Psalm 31:5 (“Father, into your hands I entrust my life”), while Mark reported his quotation of Psalm 22:1. Both psalms ended with words of trust. How can Jesus’ trust in God even during a horrible execution shape your perspective on whatever suffering comes into your life? Did God actually abandon Jesus, or did it simply feel that way during that dreadful experience? Have you ever been able to look back on an awful time and discern that God was with you, even though it didn’t feel like it when you were in the darkness?

Lord Jesus, help me, even when I can’t fully know the “why” of whatever suffering I face, to know the “who”—you!—who is with me, and who sustains me and gives me hope. Amen.

GPS Insights

Picture of Sam Wells

Sam Wells

Sam Wells serves as the Resurrection Downtown location's Modern Worship Leader since September, 2020. As well as facilitating Saturday night and Sunday morning worship services, Sam also leads worship online and with our rezlife youth teams. When she’s outside the church buildings you can find her at dog parks around town running with her pup Lilah, reading about the enneagram in local coffee shops, or playing her original tunes at music venues throughout the city!

It’s tough for me not to liken this passage of “distress” to the current state of our world. And on a smaller scale, my world has been flipped upside down just in the last two weeks. As a singer, some of the worst news imaginable is to find one’s vocal cords have developed nodules (or nodes). That is exactly the news I received last Monday. While contemplating how I could be of good use to God without my voice and grieving the loss of the offering of worship with which I am most familiar, I was brought to this passage.

“In the world you have distress. But be encouraged! I have conquered the world.”

Could it be that in this time, when I feel so separated from the way I am accustomed to entering into communion with God, I am being encouraged? That through this distress God is drawing near and showing me that my offering is not my voice alone, but the relationship I have with God through it all? While worship through song may be my most comfortable expression of intimacy with our holy creator, I am now able to dive deeper into the sacraments and practices I’ve previously overlooked. I am finding new connections with Christ. Through my prescribed silence, the experience of God’s presence has become more tangible and profound than ever before.

My hope in those seasons where you experience the inevitable stressors, and too often the suffering that life holds, is that you are able to pause and consider how God is encouraging you and using this experience to draw you near.

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Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.