Today I listened to someone recite Psalm 22. With my eyes closed, I gained a new understanding of the time in between the cross and the resurrection. Bits and pieces of scripture came together like puzzle pieces to form a picture I’d never seen before, almost a vision.
God, my God!
Why would you abandon me now?
Why do you remain distant,
refusing to answer my tearful cries in the day
and my desperate cries for your help in the night?
I can’t stop sobbing.
Where are you, my God?
Yet I know that you are most holy.
You are God-Enthroned, the praise of Israel.
Our fathers’ faith was in you—
through the generations they trusted in you
and you came through.
Every time they cried out to you in their despair,
you were faithful to deliver them;
you didn’t disappoint them.
But I am like a worm,
crushed and bleeding crimson,
treated as less than human.
I’ve been despised and scorned by everyone!
Mocked by their jeers, despised with their sneers,
as all the people poke fun at me, spitting their insults,
saying, “Is this the one who trusted in God?
Now let’s see if Yahweh will come to your rescue!
Let’s see how much he delights in him!”
Lord, you delivered me safely from my mother’s womb.
You are the one who cared for me ever since I was a baby.
Since the day I was born, I’ve been placed in your custody.
You’ve cradled me throughout my days,
and you’ve always been my God.
So don’t leave me now, for trouble is all around me,
and there’s no one to help me.
I’m surrounded by many violent foes like bulls;
forces of evil encircle me like the strong bulls of Bashan.
Like ravenous, roaring lions tearing their prey,
they pour curses from their mouths.
Now I’m completely exhausted.
Every joint of my body has been pulled apart.
My courage has melted away.
I’m so thirsty and parched.
My tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth.
And now you lay me in the dust of death.
They have pierced my hands and my feet.
Like a pack of wild dogs they tear at me,
swirling around me with their hatred.
A band of evil men surrounds me.
I can count all my bones.
Look at how they gloat over me and stare!
With a toss of the dice they divide my clothes among themselves,
gambling for my garments!
Yahweh, please don’t stay far away.
My strength, come quickly to my rescue.
Give me back my life.
Save me from this violent death.
Save my precious one and only
from the power of these dogs!
Save me from all the power of the enemy,
from this roaring lion raging against me
and the power of his dark horde.
Psalm 22: 1-21, The Passion Translation
As I listened, I could see Jesus, ripped to shreds, huddled in a deep, extremely dark cave… the belly of the earth, the place of the dead. Surrounding him are all the demons of hell, torturing him, taunting him. HE CANNOT FEEL THE FATHER. There is only darkness and torment. He is cut off from all light and everything good and decent. No angels minister to him, no friends comfort him. Hour after hour he endures unimaginable suffering as abuse is heaped on him.
What sustains him is this psalm that he has memorized, and all the scriptures that refer to him, all the promises of great and glorious things to come:
I will declare your name before all my brothers
and praise you in the midst of the congregation.
Those who fear Yahweh, praise him!
Let all the seed of Jacob glorify him with your praises.
Stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
For he has not despised my cries of deep despair.
He’s my first responder to my sufferings,
and when I was in pain,
he was there all the time and heard the cries of the afflicted.
You’re the reason for my praise; it comes from you and goes to you.
I will keep my promise to praise you before all who fear you
among the congregation of your people.
Let all the poor and broken eat until satisfied.
Bring Yahweh praise and you will find him.
May your hearts overflow with life forever!
From the four corners of the earth,
the peoples of the world will remember and return to Yahweh.
Every nation will come and worship him.
For Yahweh is King of all, who takes charge of all the nations.
The wealthy of this world will feast in fellowship with him
right alongside the humble of heart,
bowing down to the dust, forsaking their own souls.
They will all come and worship this worthy King!
His seed shall serve him.
Future generations will hear from us
about the wonders of the Victorious Lord.
His generation yet to be born will glorify him.
And they will all declare, “It is finished!”
Psalm 22:22-31, The Passion Translation
Jesus raised his eyes from his suffering to the promises he knew could not fail. Though there was nothing at all in his surroundings to give him hope, he held onto what he knew to be true: that the scriptures testified about him, and that they declared that he must die and rise again on the third day.
Because of what Jesus accomplished, we too have the ability to cling to the promises, cling to the truth, no matter how much dark desperation surrounds us, no matter what horrible lies the enemy flings in our faces, no matter how badly we are suffering in the moment.
In the end, it is no wonder that every knee will bow and every tongue declare that Jesus is Lord!