“…trouble is near and there is no one to help.”
It was the first Christmas for me alone after 25 years of marriage. I was in a beautifully decorated plaza a couple of days before Christmas walking along minding my own business. The stores were crowded with shoppers busily searching for last minute things to take home to assist in the festive mood. It was going to be a white Christmas as snow lazily fell outside to help the Canadian mood of the season.
Carols were played loudly and I was humming the tunes and thinking of the words until I suddenly saw something ahead of me that caused me to begin to weep uncontrollably. An elderly couple were walking hand in hand obviously enjoying each other’s company greatly. The thought that caused me great distress was the fact that my wife and I were not going to grow old together and have happy years of enjoying grandchildren and cosy fires with apple cider warmed on the stove.
There is no place to be lonely that compares to being lonely in a crowd. People whose lives seem normal find it difficult to understand what it is like to be noticeably different from others. Whether is is being single when you wish to be happily married, having a visible disability that sets you apart from the crowd, or whatever. All of us crave the idea of being like the rest of humanity.
Sadly the man who wrote our verse for today felt alone in his time of sorrow. There simply was no human help on the horizon and he pours out his complaint to God. I would have my readers assured that to make your misery and suffering known to God is not a sin. Time after time we read of people in the Bible calling on God to ease the suffering or stop the pain.
In Psalm 22 the writer complains to God that his prayers are not answered. The poor man says that daytime and night time he prays to God for help and there seems to be no answer. Yet, in spite of his sense that God is not there, he cries out to God as though He was there. He calls on God again and again to come near and help him.
By the time he gets further on in his prayer he has come to truly believe that God does hear and answer prayer. In v. 24 he says, “…when he cried unto him he heard.” We see that prayer does change the one who prays by bringing the individual to a firm conviction that God really does listen and answer, even in the times when we do not hear His voice.
The Psalmist cries out thinking that he is abandoned by God but Jesus utters the words of verse 1 when on the cross because He truly was abandoned by the Father for our sins. The Psalmist thought God abandoned him but God did not. Jesus knew the reality of desertion by God as the price of our salvation.
If you think God has left you, try to remove that thought from your mind. All who truly believe in Jesus are completely safe even when adversity batters us about and doubts arise in our minds. Jesus endured separation from the Father so that those who believe in Him never will. May you believe Jesus has endured the cross for you and through believing be assured you will never be abandoned by your Father in heaven.