I am writing this blog on Good Friday. Good Friday is “good” because of what God did for us on the cross. Good Friday brings us face to face with the great dilemna of our personal sin. We are found guilty with no way to rid our selves of the guilt. We cannot by our own effort make life right because of sin. As men, we are wired to fix things – make thing right, by solving the problem. But we can’t fix our ingrained patterns of sin. The effects of original sin will not yield to our attempts to make things right. God had to suffer, making it clear that we are incapable of setting things right. Remember you are powerless to set things right. Only God, the offended party, could undo the mess we have created. The Message says it straight and simple, “God put the wrong on him who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God” (II Cor 5:21)
This process of becoming right with God will include times of forsakeness, due to the idols we create in our minds and experience of life. In this regard, I read an article by Mark Galli, editor of Christianity Today, entitled “Mercifully Forsaken.” Using the cry of Jesus from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Galli talks about our experience of forsakeness. Be assured men, this will happen to you. It was a difficult lesson for me to learn that times of forsakeness are part of the growth experience in following Jesus. I am more accepting of these times now, but I still have a hard times accepting the occurance of forsakeness as I grown in my trust of Jesus. Galli challenges us when he says, “If we would have eyes to see, we’d see that the goodness of God is actually most manifest in these moments of forsakeness.”
Galli makes the point that the good experiences we have as a Christian can become an idol when we begin to consider them as the norm. When we no longer experience only the “good” experience, we begin to question God’s work in our life. On going disappointment, suffering, disappointment, etc cause us to wonder if God is still with us. The silence of God becomes almost too much to accept. We can so easily take matters into our own hands, by either demanding God to come through or just fashioning a spiritual life on our own. But says Galli, it is in these dark, dry times that God manifests his severe mercy. Yes, we are experiencing severe mercy when prayer become empty and dry. Scripture reading become an effort. We find ourselves coping with difficulty and misunderstanding, while God seems distant and silent.
Galli encourages us to remember that, “God has not forsaken us. Our idols have forsaken us.” Our props, those things that have held up our faith, these have been shown to be what they are: false gods. God has his timing in making us aware of these idols. Be assured we all have them. There will come times when the idols will have to go. God will give grace and have mercy on us as we stuggle to let go of these idols. At times our most chermished habits, experiences, and even beliefs will need to be seen as idols. But in his severe mercy, God is asking us to see what is there and begin to let go.
Remember God has not forsaken us. It is in the experience of forsakeness that God is revealing himself to us in new ways. We are being called up to trust God. I have found this to be difficult. I want to know, understand and have some control over what God is doing. I will cling to my idols that I have created in my mind, along with the spiritual patterns that have worked for me and which I thought were pleasing to God. But God uses forsakeness to point out my idols, so that I can let them go. It is only in these dark times that I am actually able to see what I have been clinging to for so long. It helps to see this as God “severe mercy” in the time of my forsakeness.