February 13, 2013

Compounded loneliness

Yesterday’s post was titled “The worst loneliness” but as I read today’s devotional, there is another, only this one is not about our pathetic condition as sinners. It happens to those who have a heart of love, a heart that deeply cares about the needs of others.
And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” And some of the bystanders, hearing it, said, “This man is calling Elijah.” (Matthew 27:46–47)

First, I believe that His sense of being forsaken is an expression of Jesus’ humanity. Because God says to His own, “I will never leave you or forsake you,” His own Son was not actually abandoned although Jesus felt forsaken. He was an innocent person suffering the wrath of God for the sins of others. That is, He suffered the terrible loneliness and separation that comes from sin, only it was not His own sin.

Yet there is another reason for this sense of being abandoned. No one trusted or understood Him. His family thought He was crazy. The rabble hung around for the bread He gave them, but cried “Crucify Him” when given that option. The religious leaders totally missed who He was and what He told them. Even those who promised to stand by Him either denied Him verbally or ran away.

Jesus didn’t take this personally. His Love is not like that. Instead, He longed for their best, knowing that following Him and believing in Him would grant them the best God had to offer. Instead, they were blind to all that as they focused on their own agendas.

The nearest I can come to describing this loneliness is a loving parent who tries to explain the best course of action to an older child. However, the child insists on doing his own thing and ruins his life in the process. Yet even that loneliness has limits, for other parents know and commiserate with such sorrow.

Jesus is so often misunderstood. Instead of trust, He is scorned. Instead of responding to His love, humanity turns its back, even curses Him. As He was dying and cried “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” — they thought He was calling for Elijah instead of recognizing that He was repeating the Word of God back to His Father. (Psalm 22)

Most suicides and many illnesses are the result of sin, but also that horrid feeling that no one understands, no one cares enough to listen or identify with my situation. But Jesus did and does do that, even if I fail to listen to Him. He never leaves me or forsakes me.

Also, on those occasions where I am ignored or feeling rejected because others do not understand, instead of feeling utterly alone, God is giving me opportunity to identify with the heart of my Savior — just as He identified with me by accepting both the burden of sin and the burden of being misunderstood. Because He was willing to do that, I know that no matter how I feel, He understands me perfectly — and I am never really alone.

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