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  • Writer's pictureVicar Matt Doebler

Matins Devotion: November 18, 2022

Matthew 27:33-56

Often, when God allows suffering and cross, pain and sorrow, to come unexpectedly upon us the devil will seize this opportunity to drive a wedge between us and God. He will try his best to convince us that our suffering is unjust, and therefore, that God is unjust. He will tempt us to doubt God’s love.

But we must not listen to his lies. Instead, when it seems that God must be cruel and unjust, angry and vengeful—these are the times when we must take refuge in the Word. These are the times that we must lament.

Lament is the way that faith responds when God seems distant. You might even say that lament is the complaint of faith. Lament is the cry of faith that rubs God’s ears in his promises when those promises seem to be forgotten. That’s why Jesus laments from the cross. He knows he is God’s Son—the one in whom God is well-pleased. And yet he hangs there on the cross in unimaginable agony like one whom God has abandoned. And so he lifts up his cry of lament:

“Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?”

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

And yet, even in his complaint, there is trust. There is the certainty that God’s anger will never outlast his mercy—that his silence will never overcome the promises he has spoken. This is why Jesus can yield up his Spirit. He knows who he is. He is the Holy One of God. And though he has been stricken by his Father, he nonetheless understands that his Father will not leave his spirit abandoned in Sheol or allow his Holy one to see corruption. (Ps. 16:10)

Luther notes that not only does Christ teach us from the cross how to lament, but he also teaches us through the Lord’s prayer.[1] What else is the fourth petition but a daily cry of lament? A cry from the creature to his Creator that I there are many things today that I need but which I am still lacking. Dear Father in heaven, you have promised to graciously care and provide for all of your creatures. And yet daily I am made aware of the things I lack. Help me, Dear Father, to entrust my every need to you…to open wide my hands, knowing that you will fill them with good things as you have promised.

[1] Large Catechism, 3.27

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