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Never forsaken

WHEN the crucifixion came, Jesus was virtually alone. Only a few stood by out of love and loyalty, including his mother and his disciple John. The multitudes who had eagerly listened to him preach, the many he had healed and saved from sin or ``had compassion on,'' were gone. The cross not only brought physical agony and humiliation. It must also have brought tremendous loneliness. To the man who had forsaken no one, these hours were marked by every evidence of separation. In this supreme ordeal Jesus sought God -- as he always had. But confronted on every side with stark images of failure, darkness, isolation, he cried, ``My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?''1

These words also open a psalm from the Old Testament, which some believe Jesus was actually recalling in prayer. Whether or not this is so, the psalm has lessons to teach that go beyond the historical to the spiritual. The hymn begins in despair. But it ends, even as the resurrection ended the crucifixion, in triumph.

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At one point the Psalmist remembers that trust in God saved his ancestors: ``Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them.'' Later the poem says reassuringly, ``He hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard.''2

In turning unreservedly to Him, the poet recognized an eternal truth: that God doesn't forsake us. When he ``cried unto him'' -- trusted in God -- he must have felt his oneness with the Father, which had, in truth, always been his.

Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes about Jesus' plea on the cross: ``The appeal of Jesus was made both to his divine Principle, the God who is Love, and to himself, Love's pure idea. Had Life, Truth, and Love forsaken him in his highest demonstration? This was a startling question. No! They must abide in him and he in them, or that hour would be shorn of its mighty blessing for the human race.''3

Humanity's blessing came with the resurrection. It was the promise made tangible -- made ``flesh'' -- that death does not have power over life. But it was more than this, too. The reappearance of Jesus three days after his crucifixion and burial brought the very validity of death into question. What had been, and still seems today, such an inevitable end to life was not only challenged, it was overcome. Death was not only less mighty than life; it was shown to be the ultimate deception. And this most supreme display of separation, in Jesus' case this deliberate effort to sever him from followers, mission, living, and, at the deepest level of all, from God, had failed -- totally.

What did this mean? It meant exactly what Jesus had said -- that his statement ``I and my Father are one''4 was not just assertion. It was truth. He proved that God never deserts man and that man cannot, in reality, ever be removed from the all-encompassing embrace of his divine Parent, God. Father and child, infinite Mind and its infinite idea, or image, are forever at one. And if death, the most threatening form of separation, had no power -- indeed, no reality -- then neither did all lesser indications of separation: hatred, disease, crime, selfishness, deprivation, and on and on.

The religious celebrations at Easter memorialize the cross and the risen Saviour. Beyond both lies spiritual truth. Mrs. Eddy describes it this way: ``If Life or Soul and its representative, man, unite for a period and then are separated as by a law of divorce to be brought together again at some uncertain future time and in a manner unknown, -- and this is the general religious opinion of mankind, -- we are left without a rational proof of immortality. But man cannot be separated for an instant from God, if man reflects God. Thus Science proves man's existence to be intact.''5

Man's unity with God is just as real now and for us as it was for Jesus. We can confront, and heal, the milder symptoms of separation -- inharmonies, inequities, even illness -- by holding fast to the truth of our inseparability from God. Proving our unity with Him is a step-by-step proposition, but it starts with daily refusals to forsake God and the reality of good. As we do this, we'll begin to experience in modest degree the resurrection, the lifting up from the earth, that the master Christian proved in highest measure. Then we'll know that God never forsakes us.

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1Matthew 27:46. 2Psalms 22:4, 24. 3Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 50. 4John 10:30. 5Science and Health, p. 306. DAILY BIBLE VERSE The Lord...will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee. Deuteronomy 31:8

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