Abandonment, When You Feel God-Forsaken

Series: Preacher: Date: August 25, 2013 Scripture Reference: Psalm 22


Today we are in Psalm 22 as we continue in our series, “Summer in the Psalm.”  

Let me encourage you to read the entire chapter for yourself this week.  But this morning I want us to draw out parts of the text to see how we can connect with David’s struggles and fears.  I will also point out how this Psalm points to prophecies about The Messiah as we move into our celebration of communion.

As I read this chapter I was reminded of a story.  A story about a couple who had lived life and raised a family. They are in the retirement stage of life and enjoying the being grand-parents.  We find them riding down the road reflecting on life. Enjoying one of those Sunday drives in their classic 57 Chevy, with the bench seats.  Those are great cars for packing people in on the long bench seat.  The husband is thinking about those hot wings he ate for lunch and wishing he would have stopped shy of a dozen.  His wife sits on the other side of the bench seat wondering what her husband is thinking about.  She thinks about how they use to snuggle in close and take Sunday drives early in their marriage.  Now with all the kids grown up, why are they still sitting so far way?  She wonders if he is thinking of the same thing.  She breaks in the silence and the steady hum of the big block engine.  “Honey, remember when we would take these Sunday drives and snuggle in close.”  Her husband responded in his deep thought out answer…”grunt, yes?”  “What happened?”  “Why do we sit so far apart now?”  Her husband says, “well…I have not moved, I am in the same place I am always in.”

I wonder if that is where many of us are in our relationship with God.  We no longer feel close to God.  As we reflect on all the trials and challenges we have faced, maybe we have moved away from God.  This is where we find David in Psalm 22.

This chapter of Psalm is so rich with meaning and some say even a prophecy of the Messiah.  I believe the Old Testament points forward to the coming Messiah throughout its chapters, including this passage.

Here in Psalm 22 we read about a struggle in the life of David.  This is the same David who was a shepherd, who slayed a giant, and also became king of Israel.  He was also known as “a man after God’s own heart”.

Here in the text we have David struggling with feelings of abandonment.   He cries out, “why have you forsaken me?”  “I cry by day, but you do not answer.”

In some ways it may sound familiar to last week’s Psalm 88.  As you read maybe you can empathize with David.  You say, yes I have felt abandoned.  I pray and pray, but nothing changes.  Maybe you’re struggling with fear, an illness, or a broken relationship.  Maybe you are struggling with a signature sin that you cannot seem to break.

But I want you to pay close attention to the pattern David takes as he works through his struggle.  Even through his struggle and his openness with his feelings he keeps his focus on God.  Listen to his words, “My God, My God.”  He is beginning his prayer from a stance of ownership to his relationship with God.  He is saying, “You are my God.”  It’s with my God that I can share my honest struggles and pleads.  I maybe struggling, but it does not change that you are “My God”.  I may feel like you’re not here, but you are my God.

David is saying that in spite of his trials and struggles that he is facing, it does not change his (knowledge of) his relationship with God.  As you read the chapter you can see his tone changes from lament to praise.  This is a drastic difference from last week’s Psalm.

In verse 3, we see the word “yet.”  This signifies a change.  Even though I feel abandoned, or forsaken, I will rest my hope on You, O Lord.  Then David explains why…God you are holy,… Our fathers before us trusted You.  As I sit and ponder all my struggles.  I am reminded of how vulnerable I am and my need for You is great.

Have you ever just sat and thought about a tough time you went through?   The view of our circumstance is drastically different when you’re in the struggle vs. through the struggle.  So as David works through dark struggle…his life is threated…he is under attack…he feels abandoned by God.

In verse 19, David is reminded, “But,” You O Lord, were not far off.  You were my help.  You rushed to my assistance.  You delivered me from the power of my enemies.

“Let the nations bow down and praise You, O Lord.”

How does Psalm 22 change us today?  Have you ever felt abandoned, or far away from God?  Does David give us a pattern or an example to follow?

For me I hear David saying, it’s OK to be honest about your feelings, struggles, and fears.  God can handle it!  Actually, He knows already.  The telling is for you.  But we get this message from the world that sharing our feelings is being weak.  But God says through your weakness I make you strong.

Granted, we need to find the appropriate avenue to share those struggles and fears.  Share with God, write in a journal, find a Christian counselor, one of your pastors, or trusted friend. A limited safe, select, safe audience can be part of spiritual health and growth.

One pastor I heard of leads groups teaching people to write their own lamentations and share deeply with God.

Let me point out something else in Psalm 22.  I do not want you to miss this connection.  Some scholars believe Psalm 22 is a prophecy of the crucifixion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Messiah.  In a few commentaries I read, they give the section of scripture the title, “The Psalm of the Cross.” Another commentary calls Psalm 22 the fifth gospel.  All four gospels do reference Psalm 22 in describing Christ’s death on the cross.

Psalm 22:1 is found in Matthew 27:46, and Mark 15:34: “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”

Psalm 22:7-8 is found in Matthew 27:39, 43: “Those who passed by were yelling insults at Him, shaking their heads.” (v. 39); “He has put His trust in God; let God rescue Him now-if He wants Him!” (v.43)

Psalm 22:18 is found in John 19:24 and Matthew 27:35: “They divided My clothes among themselves, and they cast lots for My clothing.” (John 19:24); “After crucifying Him they divided His clothes by casting lots.” (Matthew 27:35),

Psalm 22:31 is found in John 19:30: “They will come and tell a people yet to be born about His righteousness-what He has done.” (Psalm 22:31); “It is finished!” (John 19:30)

Throughout Psalm 22 Christ’s sufferings are described.  I believe as we read this Psalm, we are reminded. No matter how difficult our struggle even to death, you are not without God.  This morning we have a physical reminder of the gift of salvation in Christ Jesus, because we are celebrating communion together.

Author Donald Miller in his book, “Searching For God Knows What” he says “Becoming a Christian might look more like falling in love than baking cookies.”

Placing your faith and trust in Christ is a journey.  There will be ups and downs and unexpected turns along the way.  In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis say’s, “there are too many crooked lines out there for us to forget that somewhere there must be a straight line.  Crooked isn’t crooked unless there is a straight.”

Remember the journey with Christ is full and complete in spite of the dark valleys we face.

Now we move into a time of communion.  As we share in communion, let us REMEMBER Christ’s victory over our sin and death.  We Celebrate His gift of grace.    As we do, let me invite all Christians present to partake with us because, even if you are not a member of this church…if you are a Christian…if you are His…this is Yours.


This morning as you reflect on communion, ask yourself a vital question: “What is keeping me from moving closer to God, so I can live a life that is full and complete in Christ.”

Maybe your first move towards God is to embrace the truth that you need the forgiveness and gift of salvation that can only found in a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Maybe you need to ask God to show you He is near.

God may be leading you to some other commitment…to join this church or to rededicate your life to Him.  Whatever commitment God is placing on your heart let me encourage you to share your decision with us.

As we sing, won’t you come as God leads?

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