It’s still Easter.
As long as Christians confess that God showed Himself faithful in raising up the Christ who faithfully went to death on the cross, it’s still Easter.
When God raises Jesus from the dead, God declares that divine fidelity will be the end of the story. When God raises Jesus from the dead, God demonstrates a commitment to finally do what is right–even for those who in this life would seem to be wronged by a God who claims to delight in justice.
When Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” he was interpreting truly the event by which he was afflicted.
This is no mere spiritual abandonment.
For the Messiah of Israel to be crucified, handed over to that King’s enemies, and put to death is, itself, the very epitome of Israel’s king being abandoned by God.
When faithful, God’s people were to be protected. They were to put their enemies to flight. They were to triumph.
But he abandoned Jesus into the hands of his enemies.
And yet, it’s Easter.
Because it is Easter, we know that this abandonment, this “why have you forsaken me?” is not the last word. It is overcome by the return of God to deliver.
Because it is Easter, we need do not need to squirm or explain away when confronted with, “Why have you forsaken me?”–either on the lips of Jesus, or on our own.
God has staked a part for Himself in the story: the part of the faithful deliverer. When we are not delivered, we can join our voice to Jesus’.
God has staked a part for Himself in the story: the part of the one who will be with us always. When we are abandoned, we can and must join our voice to Jesus’.
Easter tells us that the end of the Story must be faithfulness and deliverance. It therefore tells us that being forsaken is a failure of the story to manifest the final, eschatological fulness that lies ahead.
Easter thus summons us to call out to God. It demands that we not make excuses for a God who has not yet made this world what it will someday be. Instead of making excuses, we must join our voice to that of Jesus and thereby summon God to be who God Himself has claimed to be in raising Jesus from the dead.
In the on-going drama of our salvation, God claims the role of the one who is faithful and sets all things to rights. But there is also a role to be played between crucifixion and resurrection, the role of the faithful righteous summoning God, reminding God, demanding of God a saving presence.
Because it’s Easter, we can name our forsakenness. And we can have hope that it is not the last word.