Last week in our blog I began to unpack the 22nd Psalm which is called the Psalm of the cross. We considered Jesus’s words in verse one where the author states, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? (Psalm 22:1 NIV). We saw Jesus quoting the first part of that verse as He hung on Calvary’s cross. We discussed His deep sense of desertion that He experienced in those dark hours. Today we want to consider the second part of that verse along with verse two which reads, “Oh my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent,” (verse 2, NIV).
We see the experience of deep aloneness on the part of the psalmist. Loneliness involves the feeling of being empty, it is an intense desire to be wanted and needed by someone. God himself had stated in the garden, “it is not good for man to be alone”, (Genesis 2:18). The loneliness of the heart and suffering ultimately causes deep sorrow and pain and makes loneliness an imprisoning thing. What the psalmist is experiencing is a profound sense of being forsaken by God. Remember as Jesus hung on the cross that deep darkness fell over the whole land (Matthew 27:45). I believe there were three types of loneliness that Jesus experienced as He hung on that cross for us.
First, Jesus experienced social loneliness. He very much had the sense of being “out of it” as a social outcast abandoned by His friends. Many today are experiencing a deep sense of loneliness in our culture, especially recently with the devastating side effects of lockdowns and quarantines. Someone said before Covid that “loneliness is the result of the spirit of our age”. I think that’s even more true after two years of the Covid pandemic. I think there are at least four factors that contribute to social loneliness in our world today. First, there is technology. It is so easy for us today to fill up our lives with technology. Do you ever get tired of all the passwords and new apps that you need? I sure do and it’s interesting that the same sources of technology that we think is connecting us to people are really disconnecting us from intimate relationships. It is important even as we worship the Lord that we make sure that we reach out to those who may be visiting with us because we don’t know what they’re experiencing. Do we actually go out of our way to welcome visitors, or do we just stay in our own comfortable groups?
Mobility has also added greatly to the sense of disconnectedness. Before Covid, 17% of the American population moved annually. I would suggest that that number is even higher now with the great resignation and movement south. But urbanization has also contributed to a sense of isolation. In the past communities used to be tightknit and watched out for one another, but today there is so much fear that people tend to withdraw away from others, especially in urban settings. Television itself is also contributed greatly to isolation as people just want to stay home and be in their nice comfortable spot.
The second form of loneliness Jesus experienced was emotional loneliness. This is a sense of being alienated and unattached. The desperate weight of all the sin of the world overwhelmed the Lord Jesus Christ and the burden of emotional loneliness crushed Him. Someone has said regarding emotional loneliness that “people are lonely because they build walls instead of bridges”. Jesus experienced emotional loneliness because He was becoming the bridge for us into the presence of His Heavenly Father.
Finally, Jesus experienced deep spiritual aloneness as He hung on the cross. Jesus was experiencing separation from His Heavenly Father. The psalmist David had also experienced times of deep aloneness where he felt that God had forgotten him. In fact, in Psalm 13, a Psalm Martin Luther called the crystallized tear, we read David’s words, “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemies triumph over me? (Psalm 13:1,2 NIV). David’s thoughts and feelings in this Psalm may very well be the feelings that Jesus was experiencing as He hung on the cross. Jesus experienced this separation from God so that you and I may be eternally united with God through the Lord Jesus Christ.
I believe that because there is so much loneliness and brokenness in our world that God has called us to share His love with the world in deep need. Jesus has saved us so that we may represent Him as ambassadors (2 Cor.5). Let’s look for opportunities to reach out to a lonely, disconnected world and share the great grace of our God with people going through difficulties. Let us share the hope that we have found in the Lord Jesus Christ and use every opportunity we can share the hope that we have of eternal life that is found through the Lord Jesus Christ. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so!
In the King’s Service,
Pastor Rich Sivo