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My God, my God, why have you deserted me? Why are you so far away? Won’t you listen to my groans and come to my rescue? Psalms 22:1 (CEV)

There’s an old saying that ‘when a plane is going down, there are no atheists’. When death stares us in the face; when the crisis seems too big to bear; when we feel completely alone, abandoned and helpless, our thoughts turn to God, or at least to some supreme, higher power.

The words of Psalm 22 are referred to as a ‘Messianic Psalm’. This means that the words of the Psalmist, words written hundreds of years before Christ was born, look forward to his coming and to his suffering in our behalf.

While this is true, it’s important that we remember the original context of the words. This was a Psalm of confession. This was a Psalm of honesty and desperation. After all, where is God in our deepest need? It’s easy to find him when things go well. It’s easy to sense his presence when the bills are paid, our children’s grades are good and the report from the doctor is positive. But where is he when none of those things apply? Even in the midst of his despair the Psalmist acknowledged his faith in God. Even during the darkest night he reaffirmed his confidence that God would see him through.

At times God seems distant and unconcerned about our plight here on earth, but that is not true. He loves us and as any loving father desperately wants a love relationship with us. There are times however when his distance is not because he has moved but because we have moved away from him. Sin is the primary culprit when we feel God’s distance.

While Jesus had no sin in him these words were some of the final words Jesus spoke from the cross. During those final hours he addresses his father as ‘My God’. There is no other place that I can think of in scripture where Jesus addresses God as ‘My God’. Everywhere else he talks about ‘His Father’. But when sin enters the picture (not his but mine) the intimate phrase of ‘Father’ is replaced by the term ‘My God.’

It was sin that kept the fathers back turned to his own son. Not because of his lack of love but because his holiness doesn’t allow him to look on sin.

It was sin caused the feelings of utter despair and separation within the very soul of the savior. Sin drives a wedge in the relationship. Sin replaces our feelings of love with fear and emptiness, just as it did with Adam and Eve in the garden.

Sin does the same thing today. Sin, but whatever name we call it can not be a part of a healthy, secure relationship with the living God. While sin separates us from God, it doesn’t have to be that way. The feelings of separation Jesus felt in his dying moments paved the way to a deeper relationship with God.

Jesus felt the separation sin caused because he knew the Father and he knew when the Father’s presence was missing. You may remember a time in your life when God seemed real, but time and circumstances have taken that from you. There’s still hope. God hasn’t forsaken you. Sin may have clouded your vision of him. Forgiveness is still there for you. The relationship can be restored. And it’s all because of Jesus.

PRAYER: God, I remember a time in my life when you were real to me. I felt your power. I knew your presence. Like the little boy in ‘The Polar Express’, I heard the bells. But today I feel distant from you. Examine my heart. Show me where I’ve sinned. Forgive me now and restore our relationship through Jesus Christ. Amen.

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