Forsaken but not Abandoned

July 7, 2011 § Leave a comment

“And the goal of a Christian life becomes not enlightenment but wholeness – an acceptance of this complicated and muddled bundle of experiences as a possible theater of God’s creative work.”

I have become attached to this quote by Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, in his book, The Wound of Knowledge.

Have you ever noticed that the best movies somehow tap into the deep sorrows we experience in life? And have you ever wondered why? I think the answer is that we live in the constant awareness of our fallen condition – It isn’t always sad, but it is always there. And regardless of the packaging, deep down every human knows that he or she is broken. So consequently every one of us is somehow mysteriously relieved when we feel as though someone else can relate to that – when someone, or something (like a movie) confirms that we are not alone.

The problem with the culture is that while it can identify our brokenness well, and then yearn beautifully for something redemptive (Katherine and I recently saw Win Win, starring Paul Giamatti and it is fabulous), it offers no substantial reason for hope – only longing.

In the past three weeks three friends have died – suddenly and unexpectedly. All knew Christ, and each shared the hope that there is more. Death is the ultimate and most violent reminder that the world is broken.

For some reason it struck me, weeks after Easter, that I had never considered two statements regarding Jesus’ death, as they relate to one another. One came from the Cross, when Jesus cried, ‘My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me!’ The other came at Pentecost, when Peter, in his first sermon, quoted Psalm 16:10 (“he was not abandoned to the grave”) – In other words, the Resurrection is the rest of the story – the story the culture longs for but always misses, and the one we sometimes forget – or doubt – or ignore – you insert the right words.

Sometimes all we have to hold on to is that we live in the promise of God’s new world. In a sense everything comes down to that reality, and ultimately it is enough. I know, I know, when in the midst of pain and sorrow this isn’t always easy to swallow or believe. Sometimes, on an emotional level we walk away from what we know and believe. And yet amazingly, the scriptures don’t teach that we don’t abandon God – they teach that He doesn’t abandon us. So there is even grace for those many moments when we want to chuck it all – It never did depend on us in the first place.

In the meantime we belong to a Father who delights in His children and sprinkles His lovely creative mercies upon our lives. We rebel. We forget. We wander. We struggle. Let’s face it – we are unfinished. And throughout our lives, and from time to time, we taste the bitterness of the fall – we taste in part the forsakenness that Jesus bore in fullness on the Cross. But we are never abandoned – not even to the grave.

Because we are His.

And that is sweet, good news…

peace.

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