Trembling & Trusting

Can deep affliction and abiding faith coexist? Yes. We find a wealth of examples in the more than sixty lament psalms in the Bible.

It’s safe to say that Jesus knew all of the psalms by heart. He’d sung them all his life. In Jesus’ day, every devout Jew knew every psalm by heart. There are only 150 of them. How many songs do you know?

While Jesus hung on the cross for the sins of the world, his mind and heart ran to a lament psalm, Psalm 22, and he cried out the beginning words of the psalm: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Jesus wasn’t picking a random lament psalm. He had a strategic purpose in choosing this psalm.

Let me interrupt here with an illustration. Let’s say, you’re visiting a friend on hospice, who is in her final days. You take her hand in yours, and ask her how she’s doing. In her weakened state she answers: “When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrow like sea billows roll…” Then she stops…

What is she telling you? … IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL, even though right now she’s in the stormy sea. That’s the message of that song.

This is what Jesus was doing with Psalm 22. In the moment, he was experiencing his Father’s rejection. But Jesus knew the end of the song. And this is where God was taking his story. He wasn’t in hopeless despair. That would be inconsistent with his other statements on the cross. He knew why he was there. He knew the calling on his life. Jesus was conveying a message by quoting the beginning of this psalm.

His message is found in the concluding words of Psalm 22: (a few verses removed for brevity)

23”You who fear the LORD, praise him!
All you descendants of Jacob, honor him!
Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!
24For he has not despised or disdained
the suffering of the afflicted one;
he has not hidden his face from him
but has listened to his cry for help.
27All the ends of the earth
will remember and turn to the LORD,
and all the families of the nations
will bow down before him,
future generations will be told about the LORD.
31They will proclaim his righteousness
to a people yet unborn—for he has done it.”

How beautiful is that! The psalm begins with a cry of agony, and ends with the whole world being told about the LORD.

By quoting the beginning of the psalm, Jesus was pointing others to the well-known message in the psalm. Jesus knew the ending of Psalm 22 … and so did everyone else.

In that moment on the cross, Jesus was trembling and trusting at the same time. Deep affliction and abiding faith coexisted—even in the Son of God.

Although it was the darkest day in human history, Jesus knew that a new day was dawning, and that one day, that horrific day would be called GOOD FRIDAY.

We don’t know the exact ending of our story, but we know where God is taking it. He gives each of us a part in his mission of telling the whole world about the Lord. Along the way, the road will be difficult. We will not be surprised by this, and we will not despair. In the heart of every believer there will be elements of both trembling and trusting. Like Jesus, deep affliction and abiding faith will coexist in us as well.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

6 comments to Trembling & Trusting

  • Carmen Cole

    You taught me something today. I went and read Psalms 22 and it inspired and gave me great hope. God sees the end, He knows how it’s going to turn out. Praise Him.

    • Hi Carmen, When I was first taught this i was sitting in chapel at Dallas Seminary. I was so excited I wanted to jump out of my chair. I love passing on exciting truths from God’s Word.

  • Chérie

    Thank you Janet for this illustration. The prophecies in the Psalms are some of the overwhelming evidences of why we can believe and have this abiding hope in these scary as-all-get-out times of affliction. Research shows that adoptees (myself and my children can testify :0) are much more likely to be born with a “fear-based” brain because of the disconnect that happened in utero.
    This fear during these scary times can triple if not kept in check by scripture.
    Ya know. I seriously don’t get how unbelievers get through their day without the hope we have.

    • Hi Cherie, I can tell you that unbelievers don’t even know how they get through their day. Many are waiting and longing for someone to tell them the truth and give them an alternative to their “Life has no meaning” existence.

  • Richie

    Wow, oh wow! I never even knew to link the ending of psalm 22 with the beginning! Now this makes all the sense in the world! I was perplexed as to why Jesus would choose those words from that psalm as some of his last. I could never make it fit with his other statements from the cross. Now I get it. My dad was asking me about this recently. I told dad that Jesus did not think God was forsaking him, but that he was quoting Psalm 22, but I didn’t feel like I answered him completely. And I didn’t! I am sending him this blog so that we can both have a compete understanding! Thank you.