This Holy Week-inspired devotion comes from Jeff Hual.

About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”—which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46, NIV)

When these sorts of questions are asked, the asker is calling out from a deep place of hurt in the heart, not the head. Unfortunately, those of us who try to help answer such questions often make the mistake of trying to answer questions of suffering from the head rather than the heart.

My grandfather dying was my first experience with these sorts of questions. I was 22 at the time and was working a college job in a steel fabrication shop. On this particular morning at work, the secretary called me to the office because my mother was on the phone. She told me that my grandfather had died instantly of a heart attack that morning. He was alone on his daily walk when he died.

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I felt now unexpectedly cut off. It wasn’t just being left without the chance to say good-bye. In an instant, the world of my youth had been erased and replaced by a new and unfamiliar landscape, in which my loved ones were not permanent, in which death would now make a home in my reality.

I remember openly weeping as I walked back on to the shop floor. Any other time it would have been extremely uncomfortable for me to cry in front of these burly welders and machinists, but I couldn’t stop. While I had been on the phone with my mother, the secretary had let the shop foreman know what had happened, and he had told the rest of the shop. So when they saw me crying, they actually began to cry with me.

And it was in that moment, without a single word spoken, that I knew and realized that each of these men had also known suffering in their lives, that they knew it was beyond words, and so I knew suddenly I was not all alone in this unfamiliar landscape.

This answered my grief in a way that was unexpected and deeply comforting, and in a way that a logical answer could never have done. This was God’s answer from the heart, taking in the collective agony of the human experience.