Although it is impossible for God to forsake God, for then God would have ceased being God, the Trinity in its perichoresis, the union of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit then broken, an ontological impossibility, though some would explain it as “blessed mystery,” Jesus on the cross when made sin for us indeed felt abandoned by the Father. He was certainly drinking the cup of judgment, the cup of God’s wrath meaning judgment in tasting death for us all. And experiencing in himself the hour when darkness reigns. But God never abandons his own, the Father did not abandon the Son on the cross, just as God never did abandon the psalmist who wrote the psalm.
That being said, Jesus experienced to the hilt what we experience in part, the sense of abandonment, estrangement, that all is not right, that there is a strain and brokenness in the relationship. If the mystery of separation is true, then Jesus, who offered himself by the Spirit indeed experienced it to the max. But somehow Jesus’ experience was just as if it had been so because of the sense of abandonment he felt in himself because of the spiritual suffering he was going through in taking on himself all the sin and evil of the world while he remained pure and undefiled, without sin. So that evil, focused entirely on him, would end up vanquished in and through his death and resurrection. That realization beginning in us who enter into this reality through faith and baptism, for us a growing experience, someday to be complete, and not just for us but for the entire created order in the new creation.
It is strange when people are estranged, because to be a person is to be in relationship with other persons. To be human in significant part is to be in relationship with God and with other human beings. Of course sin has entered into the equation and broken that relationship so that there has to be reconciliation through redemption. All accomplished in Christ. We are to live fully in that reconciliation in Jesus, and call others into it: that God has reconciled the world to himself in Christ and has given us the message (even ministry) of reconciliation so that we can implore (even beg) others to be reconciled to God. And in that reconciliation walls are broken down not only between ourselves and God, but with each other, even between mortal enemies, since sin is done away with in Christ in his once for all sacrifice for us and for the world.
What do we let get in the way of that reconciliation between ourselves and God and because of that between ourselves and each other? Sin, period. It isn’t easy and oftentimes painful in this life to pursue that reconciliation even within the church itself, much more outside of the church. But that is a large part of our calling in this life, as we seek to love God with all our being and doing, and to love our neighbor as ourselves, even to love our enemies. It is at the heart of the good news in Jesus, a good news we are to live out, even be growing in. The reality of which I think I’ve barely begun to scratch the surface of.