I don't think there's a more gut-wrenching question asked in all of scripture: "My God, why have you forsaken me?" Who among us haven't felt that before? We've experienced those agonizing moments when our pain is too intense and God seems very far away. Sometimes we can feel as though God has abandoned us.
That's what Jesus felt when he was hanging on the cross. As he was taking on the weight of the sin of the world -- that sin which separates us from God -- he was being separated from God. For the first time, he felt his soul being ripped from God. The Jesus of heaven experienced our darkest isolation.
I'm not sure why when some people suffer and are abandoned, it turns their hearts cold and hard while others feel drawn to God's love and mercy. I know plenty of people who have stories familiar to mine who ended up in a place of addiction, abuse, brokenness, and incarceration. I don't know why it led me to my bedside to sense God coming close. Why do some people turn to the bosom of Jesus while others turn to the bottle or needle? It's why I don't judge those who do. It's only for the grace of God I didn't, but I can identify with those living in isolation -- and it makes me want to be a healer, a bringer of God's mercy.
Jesus' wounds made him who he was. He can identify with our pain and loss, and he wants to be present in our brokenness. Peter Kreeft helps us understand this so well in his devotional "Shared Hell". Here's part of it:
"He sits beside us in the lowest places of our lives. Are we broken? He is broken with us. Are we rejected? Do people despise us not for our evil but for our good or attempted good? He was despised and rejected by men. Do we weep? Is grief our familiar spirit, our horrifyingly familiar ghost? Do we ever say, 'Oh no, not again! I can't take it anymore!'? Love is why he came and suffered. It's all love. The buzzing flies around the cross, the stroke of the Roman hammer as the nails tore into his screamingly soft flesh, the infinitely harder stroke of his own people's hammering hatred -- why? For love. Henceforth, when we feel the hammers of life beating on our heads or our hearts, we can know he is here with us."
I'm not going to make light of our suffering or sense of abandonment. It's a cruel reality in this world -- unbearable for some. But when you find mercy in your suffering -- and you will find it -- God redeems that brokenness and then uses those wounds to bring mercy to those you love who are also broken.