Advent Devotional | Day 10: Jesus and the Forsaken One
Yeso Fↄri Wɘ Nɘ Imbi Wa’i Ni
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish?
– Psalm 22:1
Have you ever felt abandoned? What made you feel that way?
Many factors can cause a state of despair where one feels abandoned, deserted, and forsaken. Since 2016, there has been a war in what is known as the “English” Cameroon. During this period, many people have been killed or watched loved ones be killed, some have been maimed, others have lost their homes and valuables to arson. On top of that, vibrant economic sectors have shut down, paralysing the economy and leading to an atmosphere of hopelessness. Some have been forced to flee their homes and become Internally Displaced Persons in other towns. Still others have fled to neighbouring countries, leaving helpless widows and orphans wailing in the streets and mothers digging graves to bury their loved ones.
In despair, we feel abandoned and cry to God, asking: Is God unjust? Why allow these incessant killings? Walking the streets, one could picture Ezekiel’s “Valley of Dry Bones” (Ezekiel 37:1–6, 13-14), with lifeless bodies littered around, and long for the day God will order life into them. The situation is so bad that people recite Psalm 31:10: “My life is consumed by anguish and my years by groaning; my strength fails because of my affliction, and my bones grow weak.” Some blame the calamity on the errors of our forefathers. Others attribute it to our departure from God’s will. Whatever the cause, the experience of abandonment and despair is real.
Whenever issues of pain and frustration emerge, humankind’s first feeling is that God seems not to care. This was demonstrated by Jesus’ disciples when He slept during the furious squall and waves on the sea. Their reaction was direct: “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” (Mark 4:38).
Psalm 22 opens with such a cry of despair. In frustration, David groans to God, expressing the sense of abandonment he experienced. Yet the verses that follow express confidence that God, who never forsook David’s forebears, will never abandon him, and that God, who has watched over him since birth, is with him especially when he’s in grave need. David reminds God of His covenant and care for their ancestors and so reiterates his own trust and confidence in God’s saving grace (Psalm 22:11–21). While the cry in this text verbalizes an accusation that God has abandoned David, it equally reminds us of where to lean when troubled.
And beautifully, this desperate cry of David is replicated by Jesus on the cross: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34). Our Saviour, too, felt that despair that suggests abandonment and cried out to God. As we celebrate Advent, the arrival of the Saviour of the world, we are reminded that the purpose of this coming took Him to the cross of Calvary. The cry of Jesus Christ reminds us of two very important things.
First, in Jesus, God Himself identified with humanity in every painful situation. Jesus, the forsaken one, knows pain: from His scandalous conception to His birth in a stable, from conflicts with the religious leaders to abandonment by His peers—all the way to His crucifixion He lived the reality of pain and suffering in a broken world. And ultimately, He conquered it.
And that leads to the second takeaway: Jesus was abandoned by God on the cross to ensure that we never will be. He bore our sin and its punishment—death and separation from God—in our place. And because He did, we know that we who are united to Him by faith will never be left or forsaken, even when our challenges and circumstances make it feel like we have been. Like the shepherds in the snow tending their flock, God’s messenger brings us words that are relieving, reassuring, and heart-warming; “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord” (Luke 2:10–11). Yes, God sees our plight and hears our cry; that is why He sent us a Saviour. May we rest in Jesus Christ, the forsaken one who underwent pain to save us.
Reverend Bah Formijang
Reverend Bah Formijang is a Presbyterian pastor in Cameroon and a Langham Scholar, currently pursuing his PhD in African Christianity. He and his wife have four sons.