Feeling Forsaken: Loneliness and Lament in Psalm 22

We’re always looking for models; it’s how the human brain is designed. We’ll get them from healthy influences around us or from bad examples. We might get them from people we follow on social media or those we look up to in our daily lives. But another place we can get our example for how to live well is from Scripture.

When loneliness tugs at our hearts, we’re quick to run to social media to give us a quick hit of acceptance, affirmation, or sympathy. But Scripture gives us a healthier model for dealing with our darkest moments.

Laments, like Psalm 22, model authors pouring out their hearts, complaints and confessions, to God with authenticity and vulnerability. I find two things most inspiring about this kind of poem: the honesty and the endings.

Some of the content you’ll find in laments is down-right gnarly. They are pictures of people in true pain, bringing God the whole lot of it. We can imitate their vulnerability with our Father. He can handle the full spectrum of our human emotions, and Scripture seems to demonstrate that he even welcomes it when we trust him with our authentic hearts in this way.

The endings though, they’re what really get me. Not always, but often, the poets of laments find themselves, at the end of their pain, in a place of praise. It’s as if they’ve poured all the junk on the floor at the Lord’s feet, and, once it’s out of their heads and before him, all that’s left to come out of their hearts is praise.

I think this is the trick the enemy doesn’t want us to catch: Emptying your heart of complaints, anger, hurts – all the emotions that feel too messy or improper for God – is actually the very action that can unearth the foundation in our souls of trust, faith, and hope in the goodness of God. As though the junk of our hearts covers it up, blocks it out, tamps it down – however you want to think of it – putting the pain out there lets the light breathe. And there really is no one better equipped to handle our junk and care for our hurt hearts than the Lord.

Putting the pain out there lets the light breathe.

So the next time it feels like loneliness is suffocating your soul, I invite you to stop stuffing and instead, practice lament with the Lord. What I’ve used here is Psalm 22, and it’s a great place to start. I’ve woven lines from Psalm 22 into my own reflection on lament and how this practice can bring us to the feet of Jesus, comforted by the assurance that he understands our loneliness more deeply than anyone and made a way for us to never have to experience it in the way he did. Such a realization can only bring us to our knees before our good God.

I invite you to read Psalm 22, and then read the poem below in light of this Scripture.

This is “Feeling Forsaken: from Psalm 22″…

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

It’s an easy thing to cry

At night when the light

Seems distant and strange,

When decay feels more apt

Than staying strength.

Why are you so far away

When I groan for help?

Like I’m just out here

Alone, unknown;

There’s no one I can truly trust

Or ask for help, so

Every day I call to you, my God,

But you do not answer.

The dot dot dot’s unending,

And I just really can’t keep pretending

I think you’re listening.

Every night I lift my voice,

But no response, no relief,

Not even a noise from you.

And yet – my Holy God,

I look to the faithful before me;

They trusted in you,

And you rescued them.

From loneliness and strain,

From sickness and shame.

They cried out to you and were saved.

They trusted you.

They were never disgraced.

And it’s a lovely story,

But really, is it for me?

God’s good, God’s glory.

Do I really want the Lord

To save me?

I just want a friend, belonging.

But like a worm eating dirt

I can’t even see that I’m hurt

When I shoot myself in the foot,

Denying your rescue,

Your closeness,

Your compassion –

Literally, for me.

My first accusation,

It’s just a near-sighted copy

Of your words on the cross

When all of it,

You lost.

Your friends and your mother,

And for a bit even, God the Father.

A loneliness so profound,

Felt in your bones,

Felt by the ground.

Darkness swirled all around

The very sun, blocked out

By what felt like disaster –

The death of hope,

A savior no more.

But your life

Poured out like water,

Is the ultimate power

To melt my waxen, waning heart.

My strength is dried up

Like sunbaked clay,

Mouth dry, but maybe

I could whisper

Your Name –

My rescue,


Lord, please,

Don’t stay so far away.

You are my only strength;

Please come to my aid.

My anger melts

At Jesus’ gaze.

Because now it’s not your back I see;

It’s Jesus, on his knees,

Praying, take this cup from me.

God, why have you left me?

Friends, can’t you pray with me?

Loneliness, as familiar to you

As it is to me.

My great high priest,

The one who gets

The deepest parts of me,

Sees my anguish,

Hears my pleas.

When he’s silent,

He’s still next to me,


And like hope springs anew,

You walked out of your own tomb

As easily as you

Brought me safely

From my mother’s womb.

Intimacy, relationship –

Accessible, renewed.

The Father, in reach,

Never asleep.

Jesus forsaken,

It closed the distance.

So I’d never have to know

As deep as he did,

In my broken bones,

The loneliness that could only come from

The Father turning away.

Jesus has never ignored me

Rolled his eyes at my mourning.

He doesn’t belittle the needy;

He gets it, completely.

He lived loneliness, fully.

He will never turn his back;

He’s listening to my every cry for help.

How do I know?

Verse 10, it reminds me,

I was thrust into your arms at my birth.

Held close, loved completely.

Not alone.

Not forsaken.

Not unheard –

Swaddled carefully.

And tonight I’m reminded,

By David’s hurt,

By his honest, cutting words,

That feeling forsaken

Doesn’t mean it’s true.

There’s a good plan

In store for me,

In store for you.

You have been my God

From the moment I was born.

Kimber M. Gilbert

One response to “Feeling Forsaken: Loneliness and Lament in Psalm 22”

  1. Melinda Gilbert Avatar
    Melinda Gilbert

    So beautifully stated.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: