How You Can Find Hope from the Darkest Psalm (Psalm 88)
One of the most difficult seasons we can endure is when we feel God is silent, especially if we're already going through challenging situations. When it seems everything is going wrong and your Help seems to be nowhere in sight, it leaves a person feeling forgotten, in disparity, and simply rejected. Our major frustrations from these seasons come not from simply being in this pit but thinking that God's silence means His absence.
If this is you, you're not alone. The author of Psalm 88 has not only been through this type of heartbreaking situation, he wrote about. Psalm 88 appears to be one of the saddest and most dismal chapters in the Bible. Check it out and I'm sure you'll agree.
The writer expresses feelings of being overwhelmed, cut off, forgotten, grieved, rejected, terrified, and despaired. Worst of all, he is crying out to God wondering where God is in all his suffering. The Psalm ends saying, "darkness is my closest friend" (Psalm 88:18 NIV).
However, the hope this Psalm offers is not in its ending, but in its beginning. “LORD, you are the God who saves me; day and night I cry out to you.” (Psalm 88:1 NIV)
Before his laundry list of everything that's going wrong, the Psalmist acknowledges that there is hope for salvation in the Lord, even when God appears silent. We learn that just because God is silent does not mean He is absent, and it certainly does not mean He is not working behind the scenes on our behalf. Do not be deceived by the darkness in your life, it is never greater than where your help comes from.
Even when you feel you are in a pit, as the writer of Psalm 88 describes, God is there with you. Four times in this Psalm the writer calls out to God. His plea reminds me of Jesus on the cross crying out in his darkest moment to the Father.
About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?" (which means "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me. - Matthew 27:46 NIV
I want to ask, do you think God stopped loving Jesus because He was on the cross? Was Jesus’ suffering a sign God dismissed His Son?
If God didn't stop loving Jesus on the cross then no matter what dark season you are in He has not, and will not stop loving you. And if He's promised to never leave you for forsake you (Deuteronomy 31:6) please trust He's right in the darkness with you friend. He walks through the valley of the show of death with us (Psa 23:4). We may not always feel or hear God but we can always believe His promise is greater than our darkness.
This dark season pushed the writer of Psalm 88 closer to God. He was not calling out to another person or thing for help. He called out to the One he knew could save. This Psalm reminds us that our dark seasons don't serve to show us that God is absent but how desperately we need His presence.
The Psalmist felt his life was near death so he cries out to the very One who raises the dead. He does not look for salvation from people or things. When you're near death you cry out to the One who overcame death.
That Apostle Paul shares a similar situation in 2 Corinthians 1. He writes to the believers in Corinth:
“We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.” - 2 Corinthians 1:8-9 NIV
Paul, like the writer of Psalm 88, was in so deep a pit he felt he was going to die. Yet, Paul shares with us that even this season had a purpose. That purpose was for him to rely less on himself and more on God. There is purpose in your pain and hope in you dark season to push you to the light. I encourage you to do just as the writer of Psalm 88. Call out to God and wait for Him to show Himself greater. In my own experience I've learned that sometimes God empties us so He can fill us back up. Sometimes He's silent so we can learn to listen. Sometimes He allows darkness so we can see that He is the true light of our life.
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Christina Patterson is a wife and stay-at-home mom with a passion to encourage women in the love of Jesus Christ and the truth of God’s Word. When she is not folding laundry or playing blocks you will find her with her head deep in her Bible or a commentary. She holds her masters in Theology from Liberty University and is the founder of Beloved Women, a non-profit providing resources and community for women to truly know who they are in Christ: His Beloved. She blogs at belovedwomen.org.