Psalm 22: Why have you forsaken me?

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Psalm 22: Good Friday 2017

A psalm of lament for all those who walk in darkness,

who cry out to a God who seems to have abandoned them.

 

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Why are you so far from helping me?

O my God, I howl in the daytime but you do not hear me.

I groan in the watches of the night, but I find no rest.

 

My God, my God, why have you forsaken us?

We are the hidden ones, the lonely ones, those who suffer in silence.

We are the elderly widow, sitting alone in a care home with no-one to visit;

The homeless man, huddling against the cold in a urine-tainted alley;

The confused teenager, scarred by abuse and the blade in her own hand;

The grief-stricken parents, crying out for the baby so cruelly snatched from them.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken us?

 

Yet still you are the holy God whom Israel long has worshipped.

Our ancestors hoped in you, and you rescued them.

They trusted in you, and you delivered them.

They called upon you: you were faithful to your covenant.

They put their trust in you and were not disappointed.

 

But as for me, I crawl the earth like a worm,

despised by others, an outcast of the people.

All those who see me laugh me to scorn:

they make mouths at me, shaking their heads and saying,

‘He threw himself on God for deliverance:

let God rescue him then, if God so delights in him.’

 

 

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Why are you so far from helping me?

O my God, I howl in the daytime but you do not hear me.

I groan in the watches of the night, but I find no rest.

 

My God, my God, why have you forsaken us?

We are the innocent ones, the powerless ones, those who cry out in silence.

We are crushed and broken, cast aside; trampled on by those with power.

We are the children gasping for breath with Sarin-tight lungs;

We are the ordinary civilians in Aleppo and Homs;

The helpless pawns in the global struttings of might.

We are the unsuspecting citizens of Westminster and Stockholm;

We are PC Palmer and Jo Cox, giving our lives in the cause of what is right.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken us?

 

Yet still you are the holy God whom Israel long has worshipped.

 

Do not desert me, for trouble is hard at hand,

and there is no one to help me.

Wild beasts close in on me, narrow-eyed, greedy and sleek.

They open their mouths and snarl at me,

like a ravening and roaring lion.

 

 

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Why are you so far from helping me?

O my God, I howl in the daytime but you do not hear me.

I groan in the watches of the night, but I find no rest.

 

My God, my God, why have you forsaken us?

We are the persecuted ones, the voiceless ones, those who persevere in silence.

We are the Coptic Christians, torn apart by extremist bombs;

We are Nigerian school girls abducted by Boko Haram;

We are the children, the women, whose basic rights are stolen;

The lesbians and gays condemned by church and state;

The minority groups, the poor, and all who are pushed to the margins.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken us?

 

Yet still you are the holy God whom Israel long has worshipped.

 

Why are you so silent, God, why so far from helping me?

My strength drains away like water, my bones are out of joint.

My hands and my feet are withered, you lay me down in the dust of death.

 

The huntsmen are all about me:

a circle of the wicked hem me in on every side.

They have pierced my hands and my feet –

I can count all my bones –

they stand staring and gloating over me.

They divide my garments among them.

They cast lots for my clothes.

 

 

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Why are you so far from helping me?

O my God, I howl in the daytime but you do not hear me.

I groan in the watches of the night, but I find no rest.

 

My God, my God, why have you forsaken us?

We are the hungry ones, the thirsty, who groan with pangs of silence.

We are the mothers and babies in South Sudan, crying out for a breastfull of milk;

We are the victims of greed in a world of plenty;

The marginalised poor in the slums of Manila and the Favelas of Mexico;

The exploited, the trafficked, those held in bonded labour;

We are the disempowered immigrant standing in line at a foodbank,

While the rich grow richer and turn the other way.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken us?

 

 

Yet still you are the holy God whom Israel long has worshipped.

 

Be not far from me, O God:

you are my helper, hasten to my aid.

Deliver me from the sword,

my life from the falling of the axe.

 

 

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Why are you so far from helping me?

O my God, I howl in the daytime but you do not hear me.

I groan in the watches of the night, but I find no rest.

 

My God, my God, why have you forsaken us?

We are your people, your ordinary people.

We sit in silence with all our fears and doubts.

We feel like broken candles in a world of growing darkness,

silent voices in a world of violence and greed.

Injustice and oppression shatter the lives of so many and our prayers seem so futile.

We cry out to you, O God, and yet you are silent.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken us?

 

 

 

Silent God, we bring the cries of our battered hearts, and the cries of those burdened by illness and bowed down by the weight of oppression. We bring them so that we may not be silent. Hear us in the name of Jesus, forsaken on the cross.

 

* The quotations from the Psalm (in italics) are taken from Jim Cotter, Psalms for a Pilgrim People. Morehouse Publishing, 1998