Jesus cries these words from the cross, after three hours of darkness which ‘covered the whole land’. We can only imagine, can only speculate as to what happened in those three hours of darkness. We do know that God the Father forsook God the Son as Jesus fought and won the battle against the darkness, against death, against sin – forever.
Jesus suffered the worst – separation from God – that we might have the best – a relationship with God forever. Jesus was forsaken by God that we might never need to be.
How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns his face away.
As wounds which mar the chosen race
Bring many sons to glory.
Jesus knew the theology of it all. He knew that God the Father had to leave him alone while he took the sin of the world. In Gethsemane, we realise that he knew that. ‘If it is possible, let this cup pass from me…..nevertheless….your will be done.’
So why does he ask ‘Why have you forsaken me?’ It was not a theological question. It was a cry of anguish, as the Father abandoned him to the darkness of separation from God.
And it silences the debate about whether we can ask God ‘Why?’.
As Mags Duggan says of her own experience:
” ‘Why?’ was not a word of doubt, but of naked trust. It was an honest admission of my own lack of wisdom and, perhaps more, an admission that God and his ways were so beyond my own understanding, that through my own thinking I couldn’t even begin to fathom what was going on….The word ‘Why?’ was the empty bowl which I held out before God, day after day, trusting, hoping, it would be filled with answers, with reasons, with peace.” p.47, God among the ruins.
So don’t be afraid to hold out your bowl and ask God ‘Why?’.
And, as we contemplate Jesus asking ‘Why?’, let’s thank him. Jesus suffered the worst – separation from God – that we might have the best – a relationship with God forever. Jesus was forsaken by God that we might never need to be.