Talking to God when God is a Part of the Problem


I know, I know. Gasp. “Blasphemy!” “I can’t believe you said that.” “And you call yourself a Christian?”

Yes, I do.

In fact, I am following in the footsteps of Jesus and repeating his words outlined in red, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” I am grateful for this chapter and verse. The words show up first in Psalm 22. Jesus is repeating after the Old Testament worship leader and I am just following the leader who says it again in Matthew 27:46.

Jesus is on a cross, arms stretched out, and he is pleading. Though his suffering is not in vain, Jesus wants to know why God has left him. “This was not a part of the plan, was it? This is not what we discussed.” God has walked out on Jesus. God has left the earth.

Come back! But not even Jesus can get God to turn around. It is for the greater good. Just trust God; it will all work out.

Just give God time. Just wait until Sunday morning. God will show up and show us that God was in control all along. Just wait until the resurrection. But, what do we do until then and during this Lenten journey?

We are invited to walk with Jesus and we know how it is going to end. Jesus will suffer and it is not even his fault. We still have no answer for when bad things happen to good people. And why should we? We don’t know what to say when bad things happen to a good God.

It’s good for us but not for Jesus. God is using him but this is hurting him. There is pain and suffering. Jesus will ask for the forgiveness of the crowd but for God, he will cry out. “Where are You going?”

I am so thankful for Jesus’ words. He doesn’t simply grin and bear it. He doesn’t offer the familiar call and response: “God is good all the time and all the time, God is good.” Jesus does not attempt to cover for God’s absence or hide his agony.

He keeps right on talking. He prays through his pain and addresses the issues by name. “Why would You leave me? How could you abandon me? I thought we were in this together!”

I trust the praying hands of Jesus on the cross. They have been through something. Pinned down, they still point the finger. “Don’t You leave me.”

The absence of God during Jesus’ crucifixion is often skimmed over. When Jesus needs God the most, God is nowhere to be found. We don’t want to think about it. We don’t want to believe it. God’s gone but God’s coming back. We rush to the resurrection.

But the crucifixion, the suffering of Jesus was a part of God’s plan too. When we suffer, how then do we pray when God is seemingly nowhere to be found? “Are you there, God? It’s me Starlette.”

How do we pray to God when we are suffering for doing the right thing, when we know that God led us to the cross we must bear? How do we pray to God when the plan causes pain? How do we talk to God when God is a part of the problem? I suppose we call out like Jesus into the void and confusion, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Reverend Starlette Thomas* is the Minister to Empower Congregations at the D.C. Baptist Convention. She writes on the social construct of race and the practice of faith at Her hobbies include reading, writing, and Starbucks.

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