But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by mankind and despised by the people.
All who see me mock me;
they make mouths at me; they wag their heads;
“He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him;
let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”
Psalm 22:6-8 (ESV)
Why do you believe in him anyway? God doesn’t do anything on this earth and he doesn’t answer you. Look at all your problems. Why would I possibly want be like you?
That from someone I love, someone close. Someone who assumes God rescues those he loves. Someone who called me worse than a worm.
Satan’s Top Lie In God’s Silence
“He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him!” That is Psalm 22 verse 8. It’s not the first time that I’ve written about this lie. For the accuser of the brothers is relentless.
Today I lingered on David’s prophetic Psalm. Our dying Lord quoted the opening words as he hung on the cross.
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?
Psalm 22:1, quoted by Jesus in Matthew 27:46
As I read on, I fixed on that old lie,
“the false premise from which the unbelievers argue in verse 8, as always: that God is there for our convenience, if he is there at all.”
Derek Kidner, Psalm 1-72A
That’s the lie I kept hearing this week. That if God is there, he’s there for my convenience, my ease. I heard it in that dear one’s scornful words and again inside my troubled mind: If God really loved you, you wouldn’t have to deal with this. You must really be guilty for God to allow this.
Satan kept aiming his fiery darts. A couple landed, with tips that must have been dipped in deadly poison. Because my grief morphed into self-pity, and self-pity is of the devil.
So this must be an effective lie. Because not only does he use it on me. He used it on Great David and on Great David’s Greater Son.
He Trusts In God, Let God Deliver Him
The devil first hurled it at Jesus in the wilderness when he said, “command these stones into bread” (Matthew 4:3). It didn’t work.
But he came back to sling the lie again, at an opportune time. It came through different mouths this time.
So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he delights in him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way.
Did you hear the lie? In his weakest, most vulnerable moments, the dying Messiah heard it. He trusts in God; let God deliver him.
I suspect it didn’t sound as harmonious as Handel wrote it. I think it was a raucous, jeering sound.
If I’m honest, if I were at the cross I might have been reviling too. At least, I might have urged the Savior, Assert your beloved son status. You shouldn’t have to suffer and die like this. Come down from the cross.
Because being a beloved son or daughter of the King seems like it ought to bring some big perks. Like, say, not having to suffer like that.
I know I’m not the only one who thinks this way.
Away From Me, Satan!
When Jesus explained how he must “suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed,” Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him (Matthew 16:21-22). “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”
I’m with Peter. Suffer many things and be killed doesn’t sound the least bit loving. But Jesus stood on truth.
For Christ to bypass suffering would have been nothing short of satanic. He demanded that His beloved Son suffer (Matthew 3:17). God sometimes sends his children into the wilderness.
That can be hard to hear when trouble comes. So Satan plants this seed of doubt, this lie, that suffering = unloved.
But Jesus would have none if it. He turned and said to Peter (Matthew 16:23), “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.” Our Lord Jesus Christ didn’t buy the lie that God spares his children suffering.
Thank God, he didn’t.
For us and for our salvation he suffered and died, the righteous for the unrighteous to bring us to God.
The Silence Of God
But in his deepest suffering, our Lord heard the silence of God. Nailed to the cross, Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
In our far lighter suffering we might hear accusing voices. Then we might hear nothing at all. There will be grace to endure, to stand up under (1 Corinthians 10:13). But we might receive no relief, no rescue, no response to our prayers—only the sound of silence.
Andrew Peterson describes the silence of God.
It’s enough to drive a man crazy
Or break a man’s faith
It’s enough to make him wonder
If he’s ever been sane
When he’s bleeding for comfort
From thy staff and thy rod
And the heavens’ only answer
Is the silence of God
But God’s silence need not break our faith.
As he was dying, Jesus fixed on to David’s words. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest (Psalm 22: 1-2).
In lament, Great David and his Greater Son, both talked back to their silent God.
Don’t Stop Talking To God
David talked back to God because he had faith. Even though he felt God’s silence, he believed God heard. Read the rest of Psalm 22. Paul believed this too.
I believed, therefore I spoke,
“I am greatly afflicted.”
Paul quoted that verse from Psalm 116. Lament is good. Crying out to God in our pain is healthy.
The problem is when we stop talking to God. Faith, belief, causes us to speak—even when our words are to tell God our troubles.
So cry out. The real problem is when we stop talking to God.
3 Truths to Defeat the Lie
Keep talking. Because it’s not where you start in this battle with despair. It’s where you land.
Jesus quoted Psalm 22 as he was nailed to the cross. We read Psalm 22 from the foot of the empty cross. There we find three life-giving truths to defeat Satan’s lies. First, if you are in Christ, your suffering is not meaningless—it is producing a weight of glory. Second, your suffering is not random—you were not spared from suffering for good reasons. Third, your suffering is not the end.
We know it’s not the end because God hears his people’s groans. He hears, he remembers, he knows. He heard Jesus when he cried, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.” He hears your sighs and cries and moans.
Serious Bible scholars suggest that when Jesus said, “It is finished,” (John 19:30) he was actually quoting the last line of Psalm 22. As Jesus hung in the dark on the cross, he was meditating on the psalm for he’d cried, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
But those words were the beginning of Psalm 22, not the end.
“He has done it!” That is the real end of the psalm.
As Jesus bore our sins in his body on the tree, I think, he was looking ahead to this glorious end, when,
All the ends of the earth will remember
and turn to the Lord.
All the families of the nations
will bow down before You...
They will come and tell a people yet to be born
about His righteousness— He has done it!
Psalm 22:27, 31
Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
This post was originally published at AbigailWallace.com.