by Octavius Winslow, 1870
“My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” –Matt. 27:46
My soul! was it not enough that your Lord should be forsaken of man in His sorrow? Was it essential to the accomplishment of your salvation, and to your support and comfort in seasons of soul desertion and darkness, that He should likewise be forsaken of God? Yes! it must be so. The history of the universe never presented such an abandonment–a being so holy, and yet so entirely and so severely forsaken of God and man–as that which Jesus was now experiencing upon the accursed tree. With what a depth of emphasis that word must have sounded from His pale lips, quivering with agony–“‘My God, my God, why have YOU FORSAKEN me?’ You, my Father–You whose glory I am vindicating, whose government I am honoring, whose Name I am glorifying, whose Church I am redeeming–why, my God, my God, have YOU forsaken me? I can endure to be abandoned by man, but to be forsaken by YOU, my Father, in the hour of my deepest sorrow, at the moment of my keenest suffering, is the bitterest ingredient in my cup of bitter, the darkest hue in my cloud of darkness.” Let us devoutly consider Jesus as passing through this eclipse of His soul, and receive the holy instruction and comfort the spectacle was designed to convey.
Of WHOM was Jesus forsaken? His Father. And when, O my soul! you walk in a sense of divine desertion, who is it that says to you, “For a small moment have I forsaken you, but with great mercies will I gather you?” –it is your Father in heaven. It is a Father’s momentary withdrawment; and although this thought adds keenness to the discipline and intensity to the cloud, is there no consolation in knowing that the hiding is paternal–a Father secreting Himself from His child–and but for a moment? Thus, though He hides Himself, He is a Father still.
But, what was a cloud of thick, all-enshrouding darkness to Jesus is salvation’s light to us. Even as His sorrow is our joy, His wounds our healing, His death our life–so His abandonment on the cross, as a foreign divine expresses it, is “our bridge to heaven; an unfathomable abyss for all our sins, cares, and anxieties; the charter of our citizenship, the key whereby we may open the secret chamber of communion with God.”
Thus, if you are, O my soul! walking in darkness and have no light, let the thought be as a ray playing on the brow of your cloud, that, it is not the darkness of hell and condemnation, but the darkness only through which all the ‘children of light’ more or less travel–the darkness with which the Sun of Righteousness Himself was enshrouded–and which, when it is past, will make the sunshine of God’s love and the Savior’s presence all the sweeter, dearer, brighter.
And how did Jesus deport Himself in this season of Divine forsaking? What supported and comforted Him during this total and dreadful eclipse through which His sinless soul passed? He trusted in God. His faith could still exclaim, “MY God, MY God.” So lean upon your covenant God, O you children of light walking in darkness. As the veiling clouds, though they hide, cannot extinguish the sun, neither can your gloomy seasons of Divine desertion extinguish one beam of the Savior’s love to you. If all is dark–a hidden God, an absent Savior, a frowning providence–now is the time to have faith in God. “Who is among you that walks in darkness, and has no light? let him trust in the name of the lord, and stay upon his God.” Stay yourself upon His covenant faithfulness and unchanging love, and believe that Jesus intercedes for you in heaven, and that soon you shall reach that blissful world where your sun shall no more go down, nor your moon withdraw itself.
“Through waves, and clouds, and storms,
He gently clears your way:
O Wait His time–your darkest night
Shall end in brightest day.”
in Him with love