Psalm 22 is perhaps the ultimate Psalm for comforting those who have undergone abuse. It foreshadows the plight of Jesus on the cross, experiencing the wrath of God in his person after experiencing an onslaught of abuse from his own people, despite not only being entirely innocent, but living a perfect life to die for their sins. John Henderson reports that Patricia, who had undergone a great deal of sexual abuse, sat in a counselling session wondering why God had allowed her to be abused in the first place. Why did God not protect her from these experiences? Verses 1-2, Henderson reports, seemed to reflect Patricia’s experience with God up to that point: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning. O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer; and by night, but I have no rest.”
The Psalm is perhaps most famous because Jesus uttered the first verse on the cross (Matt. 27:46). While the Psalm reflects the painful abuse many humans experience on a daily basis, its special significance is that it points to the experience of Jesus Christ on the cross. How could a God of justice allow such injustices? How could a God of love allow someone to endure such hateful behavior? Interestingly enough, John Henderson reports that Patricia was shocked when asked if she had ever spoken this way to God. She reports that she had never done so because she did not think she was allowed to speak in such a way to God; and yet, here was the Psalmist doing just that.
Instead of petitioning God for intervention when she felt betrayed or abandoned by him, she hid from him in shame. Henderson encourages his readers to “Face God,” no matter how unnatural it may feel; and it will feel unnatural, he assures us. “Talk to him! Be candid with him! Bring it to him!”, he enjoins. “As his beloved chldren, we will never have a time in our lives when he does not welcome our sincere cries: “As for me, I said in my alarm, ‘I am cut off from before your eyes’; nevertheless you heard the voice of my supplications when I cried to you”(Ps. 31:22).
Henderson notes that Claude could feel encouraged by these passages when he felt rejected and forsaken by his wife. He could take his petitions before God and ask God to intervene on behalf of his wife to heal her and how Claude could attempt to empathize with his wife instead of thinking first and foremost about his own hurt. Instead of increasing her shame with his anger, he could encourage her to approach God. As Henderson says, “Rather than quickly accuse her, he could patiently intercede on her behalf.”