Scripture Reading: Psalm 88
This is a dark psalm without resolution. We might expect the psalmist to express his grief honestly before God but we would equally expect a resolution to occur before the end of the psalm. But this psalm isn’t like that: it ends with a word which characterizes its contents, darkness. As you read the psalm did you relate to the experience? Have you ever been without strength, in darkness, in the deeps? This psalm paints a realistic portrait of the suffering saint who finds life full of difficulty and God to be distant and silent. Suffering is part of the Christian journey and it doesn’t help to pretend otherwise. Perhaps you found a voice for your pain in this psalm. But what lessons can be learned?
First, honest expression of grief is part of inspired scripture. It is hypocritical to talk to God in pious platitudes when your heart is full of hurt and despair. God saw fit to include this psalm in scripture, partly to remind us that He understands our frame that we are but dust. Give expression to your grief in honest relationship with your God.
Second, suffering should not turn us away from God but to Him. The psalm is full of references to the Lord as the psalmist bares his heart before Him. Darkness and despair can cause us to become bitter at God but when we do we forsake our only hope of mercy. Suffering is a wonderful catalyst to strengthen our dependency upon our all-powerful, all-good and all-wise God.
Layton Talbert in his book Beyond Suffering says it this way “the biblical response to calamity and divine silence is threefold: (1) Hope in God. Who else is there? Biblical hope is confident expectation based on the fact that God has given His word. (2) Dwell on God. Remember all His past acts for you. Meditate on His character in Scripture. (3) Be still and know that He is God. Cultivate a patient, quiet acceptance of His sovereign purposes and timing.”
Be encouraged that in the middle of suffering the question of why? needs to be turned into who? as you deepen your relationship with God. While we may never understand why we can know the one who does and trust and rest confindently in Him.