By Rev. Dr. Demetrius Russell
One of the greatest joys of my adult life is having a family. Of course there’s love, then marriage and then children. What a joy it was to hold our children in our arms when they were born. It was amazing watching them develop and change week to week. But there came a time when they had to learn how to sleep in their crib, in their own room, during the night. They were used to being held and coddled and rocked to sleep but during this stage, it required separation from the one that is their deliverance. The one that comes and rescues them in trouble. The one that keeps them secure. After experiencing such comfort and protection, they now feel forsaken.
During this time, they have to learn to cry and get through the struggle when it appears as if mom or dad is not there. What they don’t understand is that there is a process they must endure to sleep by themselves. They must experience this separation so that a few weeks down the road, they will lay down and fall asleep on their own.
And the reality is that just like infants, there are times when we feel forsaken. We feel as if God has left us all by ourselves.
Jesus shares that there are times, regardless of our calling that we will feel by ourselves.
But it’s good to be reminded that God always has a process, a purpose, and a promise
1. Remember God’s process
The presence of darkness, in biblical context, often represents sin. Darkness in this text denotes that sin is now placed on Jesus and it is His responsibility to bear its consequences. The reason why Jesus has the responsibility of bearing sin is because in order to bridge the relationship between God and humans, a sacrifice had to be made. Jesus, the ultimate sacrifice had to take on human flesh, live as a human die but in death, he was to take on sin for us. In 2 Corinthians 5:21 it says
for He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.
So according to the process, Jesus had became sin and perhaps the darkness falling over the earth was a reminder to Jesus that you’re in God’s will.
No matter the amount of suffering we experience, it does not mean that we are outside of the process. Everyone wants to believe that when you’re in the will of God that the process or the steps and what’s experienced will be easy.
· We celebrate what happen at Calvary and on the third day because of difficulties Christ went through.
2. Remember God’s purpose
My God, My God.
Remembering God’s purpose, presents tremendous challenges especially going through the process., I’ve asked myself, how can I continue serving and ministering in pain and suffering? How can I remain an effective witness to others while I’m going through misery? Jesus in his dialogue with God shows us how we see God during these times determines how we respond to hardships.
Jesus says, my God, my God. That differs from any of the other sayings of Christ from Calvary because when he converses with God he always says father and God responds. He may not speak but he acts showing Him that I’m still with you. I got you. But when Jesus takes on sin, and the earth becomes dark, Jesus no longer sees God as father because it would cause him to operate from a place of divine sonship. He says my God because if He says Father, perhaps God would have moved differently and Jesus would have as well, but saying my God reminds Jesus that he came for this moment. Since Adam sinned, He was the only sacrifice that could reunite man and God.
3. Remember the promise
When we look at what Jesus says and conduct our research, Jesus is quoting Psalm 22. He repeats the words of the psalmist but when reading this Psalm in its entirety, this cry moves to victory and vindication in verses 25-31. This means that Jesus understood what he had to go through. In quoting David, He understood that pain and loneliness was not the final outcome and would lead to victory.
Watch how God answers or moves during this time. Darkness covers the earth during the day. Darkness does not only suggests the burden of sin and displeasing God but it also means that there is covering which leads to relief. The hours of twelve to three pm is the hottest time of the day. Jesus would have been exposed to the sun without any covering. In addition to the tears, cuts and bruises, His skin would have burned and God perhaps allowed darkness to come to give aid. It’s a reminder that even though he felt alone, He was not by himself because God covered Him.
That’s good to know that when we are in God’s will and our enemies harm us and we are places in greater danger, God is able to cover us, protect us and keep us so that we will remain faithful to the assignment.
The text states that darkness invades earth from the sixth to the 9th hour (12-3) but watch verse 46. The text says at about the 9th hour, let me translate, just before the end of the period of darkness, Jesus says “Eli Eli , Lama Sabachthani” meaning my God Why has thou forsaken me. If darkness lasted from the sixth to the ninth hour and Jesus spoke before the ninth hour it suggests that perhaps God moves and shows that his decision to forsake him was only momentarily.
My wife, Miriam taught me a valuable lesson. Our children learned that if they cried when things are not right, mom or dad will come to their rescue. While I’m concerned she instructs me to leave them alone. They would be fine. But, to the children’s and my surprise, she would go to the door in 10 minute increments just to remind the baby that “She was not Far Away.” She was paying attention to them. That gave them the encouragement to go ahead and fall asleep. She knew that the kid’s ability to sleep on their own was vital to their growth, development and ultimately living out their purpose.
That is what God does for us. Though he may seem to be far away, He’s covering us but while doing so, He doesn’t leave us but gives us the space we need to learn how to grow and trust Him through the difficult moments. He shows up in small ways to remind us that He’s not that far away! If He has ordained this for our lives, He will aid us through them.
(Let this be a reminder for this season of pandemic and racism: GOD is not far away and He is working on our behalf!)