Together in Prayer

Vertical Prayer with Horizontal Impact

Why? (pt. 3)

Perhaps the most famous cry of “Why” in the Bible came from the mouth of our Savior as he was dying on the cross.  “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46)

Jesus was quoting the beginning to Psalm 22, which we looked at previously.  In Jesus’ case, of course, he had known in advance the agony he would suffer; in fact, he had prayed earnestly that he could be spared that agony (Matthew 26:36-42) – not just the physical agony of torture and crucifixion, but I suspect that he also knew in some sense the separation from the Father that would be required in order to truly take on the sins of mankind.

Jesus likely was not looking for an answer to this prayer.  About to die, he would not benefit from knowing any additional information about why God had forsaken him.  His cry was more one of an expression of agony than a request for God to justify himself.

Our “why” can also be this way.  Often it’s not so much that we need God to explain himself to us (although we do like to understand); it’s more that we need him to reassure us that he in fact has not forsaken us, that he’s still there, that he still cares.  Sometimes the suffering we endure is more than the crisis itself – it’s a crisis of faith, wondering where God is when we suffer and why he’s not intervening to save us.  In fact, this is the kind of crisis that David expressed in the beginning of Psalm 22.

David ultimately came to the realization in the Psalm that God had not actually abandoned him; that the God he knew continued to be faithful – both in general and to him specifically.

We can have this same assurance when we approach God.  Hebrews tells us that we can approach the throne of grace with confidence (Hebrews 10:19-23).  In fact, it’s exactly because of Jesus’ agony that we have this confidence.  We may feel at times that God has forsaken us; but, unlike Jesus, we will never experience actual abandonment by God.  Though it’s possible for us to walk away from God, he will never walk away from us (2 Timothy 2:12-13).

So if our cry of “why” draws us into God’s presence, then it has served its purpose.  If our suffering forces us to our knees to seek God’s face, then God has used it for our good.  We shouldn’t be afraid to cry “why?”  The God whom we know and serve has heard this question before.  And he will answer it for us like he did for David and like he ultimately did for Jesus – he will answer it with Himself.

About Andrew Wheeler

Andrew has led small groups and prayer groups for over 30 years, dating back to college where he led the prayer ministry of his InterVarsity chapter. He served in the prayer ministry of Willow Creek Community Church for over 20 years, including co-directing the prayer ministry at Willow Creek Crystal Lake. He is the author of Together In Prayer, a guide for leading prayer in a small group setting, and has written numerous articles for Prayer Connect and SmallGroups.com. He is a featured blogger on Pray.Network.

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