March 23, Wednesday
The Word Sends*
Psalm 22:1-11 (NRSV)
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer; and by night, but find no rest. Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. In you our ancestors trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them. To you they cried, and were saved; in you they trusted, and were not put to shame. But I am a worm, and not human; scorned by others, and despised by the people. All who see me mock at me; they make mouths at me, they shake their heads; “Commit your cause to the LORD; let him deliver— let him rescue the one in whom he delights!” Yet it was you who took me from the womb; you kept me safe on my mother’s breast. On you I was cast from my birth, and since my mother bore me you have been my God. Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help.
The call to discipleship is, in our minds, an easy one. After all, doesn’t Jesus promise that disciples will be able to do all of the things that Jesus does, and then some? Throughout the Gospels, disciples are given the ability to cast out demonic powers, to teach, to preach, to heal, but also to suffer. It is here that Psalm 22 stops us in our tracks, reminding us that if disciples are those who follow Jesus, this is not only a journey of life but of death as well.
I doubt that any of us would paint Psalm 22 on a nursery wall, or use it in a commissioning service. It’s doubtful that, apart from Good Friday, these verses ever cross our minds. But for disciples of Jesus, this is the promise: that God sends us out to join in the work of Christ, to do great signs and wonders, but also to follow Christ to the cross.
Psalm 22 offers a sobering reminder that the way of the Lord has been made straight, full of witnesses to God’s faithfulness, but that the way of Jesus is one which will involve darknesses which we do not yet see. And yet, even there, God is present, in the darkness of the way ahead, in the past behind us, and on the road beside us.
Do I trust that God has sent us out, even when there is no hope in sight?
O God, you have sent us out with your strength and with your Spirit, and your word does not return void. Remind us of the many ways that you have delivered us in the past, and let us look forward to the deliverance which is to come as we live out your calling.
By Dr. Myles Werntz, T. B. Maston Chair of Christian Ethics,
Logsdon Seminary (Hardin Simmons University),
2000 graduate of Ouachita Baptist University
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