And the Lord God said, “The man has now become filthy and corrupted and I can’t bear to look at him. He must certainly not be allowed to come near to us.” So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden so He could enjoy its perfection, and the man was cast out to live separated from God.
Not the book of Genesis 3:21-23
This last month I have been in a pretty desperate place and have lost sight of the Father in the midst of my depression, anxiety and the mess my life had become.
I found myself drawn to the words of Psalm 22 that Jesus cried out at the cross:
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from my cries of anguish?
My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, but I find no rest.
This is how I felt.
Now I had been taught that the Father had turned his face away from Jesus because He could not bear to look on His Son who became sin (Keith Getty even has the lyric “The Father turns His face away” in the song “How deep the Father’s love for us”).
But then if God can’t bear to look on sin then there is no hope for me.
But wait – if God can’t look on sin then why did He walk in the Garden of Eden after Adam and Eve sinned and talk with them and make them clothes? Why did He continue to interact with them after they were cast out?
There is a dual nature of holiness and love, of justice and mercy running throughout Scripture.
God comes to meet His people on Mount Sinai. They cannot approach but yet God wants them to come near.
God speaks with Moses face-to-face but yet He can’t see God’s face or he will die.
David cries out that God has forsaken him but in verse 24 he says:
For he has not despised or scorned
the suffering of the afflicted one;
he has not hidden his face from him
but has listened to his cry for help.
How do we make sense of all this?
At the cross.
God’s justice demands death for the wages of sin, God’s mercy pays the penalty we deserve. God’s holiness leads the centurion to exclaim “surely this man was the son of God”, God’s love forgives that centurion who crucified Jesus.
There is much debate over whether Jesus experienced the human feeling of being forsaken and God being far away or whether there was an actual separation of Father and Son. But whichever it is, the separation He experienced means that now we are reconciled to God through Christ.
Jesus promises to be with us always through His Holy Spirit.
Jesus, who has experienced what I’m feeling is walking with me in my distress.
I can rest in that truth.