I get to lead a Bible study group and we’ve been doing a leisurely study of the Psalms. Yesterday morning, we came to Psalm 88. Now, I have one of my characters say, “There’s always hope at the end of a psalm.” That’s not the case with this one. The writer pours out his heart- he’s sick, abandoned by family and friends, ignored by God, miserable in soul and spirit, and despairing of life itself. And that’s it. There’s no rousing ‘but God is my refuge’ ending. In fact, the last word is ‘darkness’. God never speaks. The psalmist walks away just as depressed as when he started.
But there is hope and comfort in that psalm. Here are some things I took away from it.
It is not uncommon to feel this kind of anguish. And that longing for God to hear, to intervene, is a sign of genuine faith. You won’t long for a God you don’t trust in.
There are times when prayer is like that. We leave our knees with no answer, no resolution. Sometimes, we get sweet peace and relief as quickly the words leave our hearts… and sometimes we don’t. In both situations, God is still God. He still loves us and still hears us. He doesn’t have to explain Himself to us though. He is GOD.
Then sometimes, I think God doesn’t answer because our judgment is so messed up we wouldn’t listen anyway. Maybe the psalmist was wrong about being abandoned and ignored. Maybe God’s answer was something like “You’re upset. I can’t talk to you when you’re like this. Calm down. Get some rest, and then we’ll talk.”
God is always at work. He will never leave leave us or forsake us. He’ll never abandon us or leave us to fend for ourselves. Regardless of our circumstances, our feelings, or our thoughts.