Summary: A continuing look at the last words of Christ from the cross.
Mt. 27.46 "My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me?"
1. Do you ever feel hypocritical coming to church? You feel awful but you come through the front doors with a smile on your face. You struggled getting up in the morning but here you are now, laughing and joking like everything in the world is just right. I mean, do we really believe that out of all the days of the week that we wake up on the wrong side of the bed, it’s never Sunday. No matter what kind of morning you had, no matter what sort of discussion you had with your spouse or your kids or yourself, no matter how heated it got, when you came through the doors of this building, there was a smile on your face. It may have been plastered there but it was there. You don’t feel like smiling. You don’t feel like being cheery, but you feel that if there was ever a place where you ought to smile, it’s here. No matter how fake. No matter how unreal. If you are going to smile, it has to be at the church. You can yell and scream at home, all the way in the car, but get out of the car, walk across the parking lot and through those doors and you act happy.
2. Sometimes this really bothers people. To walk in the church feeling like that. To feel like something is wrong, like God is absent but that in the midst of that they are just supposed to smile. Some time ago, I got an email from a couple who attended a church I pastored. They expressed this idea that they wished they had more faith, that they could be more like us. And it made me think how often we, even as a parsonage family can make it seem like life is always together. Like everything is always good. Like somehow we as believers experience life as a bed of roses, when that’s really not true. We all have struggles and we all have difficulties. None of us, no matter how much we want to be are exempt from this reality. This couple were foster parents who had been wrongly accused of something by one of their foster children. And for one reason or another, the child who had been known as a habitual liar was believed and all of the children, even girls this couple planned to adopt were removed from their home and they prayed hard for these children to come back but at the end of a rather long battle, the state decided that the girls had been with another couple too long and it would be against their best interests to move them back to this couple’s home. In the midst of this process, the woman’s father passed away due to kidney failure, and he had believed that God would return the girls to their home. All of these events together caused this couple to doubt and to believe that maybe they weren’t the best Christians. I mean, after all they had prayed but God didn’t seem to have answered their prayers. And they felt bad being unable to come to the church and not smile.
3. And I have to say to them and to others that the truth is life sometimes stinks. The truth is that sometimes we are big fat liars because we come into the church feeling awful and we put these smiles on our face and act like everything is alright, even though it isn’t. Why is that? Why is it that we struggle being genuine in this place? I suspect that some of the reasons why have to do with our understanding of God and our understanding of ourselves.
4. First of all, the reason we don’t come into this place genuinely is because we think that to not do so reflects a lack of faith. That to wonder if God is really there isn’t a problem of God’s but a problem of ours. That to question His faithfulness makes us doubters. As if we don’t believe the promises of His word. That we fail to believe that He will never leave us nor forsake us. And yet, we have those seasons in our lives where that is exactly how we feel. We feel alone and betrayed. We feel forsaken and forgotten. But we don’t dare let on for fear that someone might wonder about our faith, our confidence in God.
5. A second reason why we don’t express our true feelings of doubt and anxiety is because somehow we think we might be letting God down. If I tell God that I don’t feel He is there right now, I tell Him He’s not good enough for me and that sounds like blasphemy. It sounds again like I know better than God or I think I know better than God. To suggest that God isn’t there when I need Him, to me that sounds like something I shouldn’t be doing.