Last Words Series, Part Four – "Fear"


I taste the juice of forbidden fruit

dripping from Adam’s mouth.

And in my hand, the dagger

that killed Cain’s brother. My arms

are sore from building Babel.

Abraham’s fear rolls in my gut.

I cling to Sodom as it burns, connive

for the birthright at Isaac’s bedside,

stand by as my sons slaughter a city,

hear the roar of weeping women

whose husbands die by the blade

of my knife. I go into a prostitute

and father two sons by my daughter-in-law.

A slave now free, I wander the desert

longing for Egypt under my feet.

I take the vow of a Nazirite and eat

from the carcass of a dead animal,

kill thirty men for unraveling a riddle.

The men I’ve murdered to marry their women.

The cold shoulder I’ve given to collapse a kingdom.

All of this and more,

borne upon my spirit, every crime

a hornet in my chest. I ask and know

the answer, groan the question anyway,

out of this agony, “My God, my God,

why hast thou forsaken me?”

Ever since I can remember, the words of Jesus on the cross, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” have confused me.  This was probably the hardest of the verses for me to imagine or write about, because it is Jesus, Son of God, who feels abandoned by God.  I can understand any other normal human crying out to God about being abandoned, but this is Jesus.  In that dark moment, God the Father had to stand by and allow all of the wrongdoing of mankind to rest on Jesus.  He had to carry that massive burden.
In writing this poem, I needed to find out where “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” came from, because Jesus is actually quoting scripture here.  If you have some time to read Psalm 22, it’s worth it.  This psalm expounds on what Jesus must have been feeling, beyond that single sentence.  If the Son of God is the epitome of faith, then this moment on the cross embodies the opposite extreme – fear.  Here, every dark thought, word and deed buzz, stinging and sapping strength.  This is what we are spared.

Published by Sarah M. Wells

Sarah M. Wells is the author of The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Gospels to Help Kids and Parents Love God and Love Others (2022), American Honey: A Field Guide to Resisting Temptation (2021), Between the Heron and the Moss (2020), The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Bible to Help Kids and Parents Engage and Love Scripture (2018), Pruning Burning Bushes (2012), and a chapbook of poems, Acquiesce, winner of the 2008 Starting Gate Award through Finishing Line Press (2009). Sarah's work has been honored with four Pushcart Prize nominations, and her essays have appeared in the notable essays list in the Best American Essays 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, and 2018. Sarah is the recipient of a 2018 Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council. She resides in Ashland, Ohio with her husband and three children.

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