And at three in the afternoon Jesus
cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi,
lema sabachthani?” (which means “My
God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).
Mark 15:34

devotional again comes from a Chinese house church pastor who was
and held for three weeks just prior to this talk. He says his
experience was
going with Christ to the Garden and to the Cross. Today he
continues and
explains another aspect of The Cross:

But it is not all triumph. I know
some pastors who said they just smiled all
the time from the moment they were
arrested, and felt unutterable joy the
whole time. I suppose that is
possible. After all, Shadrach, Meshach and
Abednego seemed to be very calm
throughout their ordeal. But we must not make
that the test of true
spirituality. The Psalmists are full of despair and
questioning as they go
through hard times. So were Jeremiah and Job and
Habakkuk. And most sobering of all, our Lord Himself was heard to cry from the
Cross, “My God, my God,
why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34)

This is the dark side of the
experience. What makes suffering hardest to bear
are the questions, the
voices that well up within each of us, that are full of
doubts, despair and
depression. And I believe this is OK. As humans we were
not meant to suffer.
We were made to be part of a perfect world, with no
sorrow or sighing, an
Eden where everyone was righteous and fulfilled. So when
we suffer, there is
a sense in which our bodies and spirits witness saying,
“This is unnatural,
this is not why we were created.”

In my own case, I wondered whether God
had turned His back on me, or was
punishing me for past sins. Yes, I know
that sounds odd after all I have just
said about feeling the power of God
within to forgive my persecutor, and
having the angel strengthen me. But you
forget these things in the dark
watches of the night, sleeping sandwiched
between two prisoners and being
cursed by everyone because you need to rise
and go to the toilet; and so
everyone must wake up and shift their position.
It was the nights that were

But most of these doubts were not
weaknesses as such; they were attempts to
comprehend the incomprehensible.
Where is God here? What’s He up to? How can
this possibly extend His kingdom?
How is His glory served by one of my sisters
being raped by an interrogator?
The fact is, when we suffer, there is so much
that we cannot understand. I
read somewhere that “because we are human, we
yearn to understand, but
because we are human, we cannot understand.”

Suffering puts us in our
place. It humbles us to realize that we are not
really in charge of our
lives. This is a hard realization. God is in charge,
and His purposes can be
hard to discern at times. He takes even the sin of the
world, and turns it to
good account. We often do not see how He does this, but
we believe it.
Accepting it in faith is never easy when you are suffering.

Today I will not try to understand the incomprehensible. I will
accept God’s
goodness in everything by faith.

PRAYER: Pray for Christian prisoners
going through great pain today that they
may know His touch.

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