You Have Rescued Me
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning? Psalm 22:1
Aside from their thoughtful content and beauty, the reason the psalms are so vital to Christians is that they cover the gamut of human experience. Psalm 22 shows one end of the experience. In the face of all the strong and aggressive animals spoken of (bulls, dogs, wild oxen) the author picks the worm (“I am a worm, and not human,” v.6). On the other end of the spectrum, there are psalms like Psalm 8 which picture us as created a little less than God.
Why the worm? Rather than being inherently worm-like, the author says it’s the situation which robs his vitality and leaves him in a wretched state. This message is for you and me in all conditions brought on either by other people or experiences.
Jesus used words from Psalm 22:1 near the end. (Matthew 27:46, Mark 15:34) Thank goodness, because by doing that he gave us the last word for the interpretation of Psalm 22. He is not saying that his or our suffering is a sign of the Father’s displeasure. Instead they point us to the loving Father who has been there all along, as he proclaimed in the Prodigal Son story. That’s why words from Psalm 22 were Jesus’ second-last words. The last were “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”
The Psalmist gets pulled out of the doldrums by remembering that God is the Creator who birthed him. When the Creator is near, as God always is, new life is always available — and it will never end because “future generations will be told about the Lord, and proclaim his deliverance to people yet unborn” (v.30-31).
As we walk together through Lent, whether you or I are in either the “wormy” or a “little less than God” condition, the message is, get back to reality. Reality is that we are created by a God who is near us, not to judge, oppress or drive us, but to keep the life coming to us, God’s creatures, created in God’s image. The essence of Lent is to meditatively ask, personally and as a congregation, are we acting like it?
Good and loving God, every breath we have ever and are taking, everything we have, comes from your gracious hand. In our Lenten journey, let us never forget, who you are, who we are, and that we are living in an atmosphere of your loving care. Amen.