July 29, 2020
Well on another beautiful, sunny summer day, let me greet you with the closing words of Psalm 88, words we looked at out in the park on Sunday darkness is my only friend. The words of the Psalmist that come at the end of 18 verses of lament and crying out to God. Remember some of the words we heard on Sunday
- I’ve had enough troubles and my life is near death
- I’m like a man with no strength left
- ’m lying in the grave and no one remembers me - not even you referring to God
- I’m cut off from your care
- You have put me in the lowest part of the Pit - right in to the depths
- Your wrath weighs heavily on me - you have overwhelmed me with your waves
- You have made me repulsive to my friends
- God, why are you rejecting me
- I’ve been suffering since I was a teen - I’m suffering your terror and I am so desperate
- Your terrors are destroying me
- You have distanced loved one and neighbour from me
On Sunday, talking to someone about this Psalm, they pointed out that perhaps it’s way more real and we far more often feel this way than we care to admit, or perhaps think we can admit - falling under the lie, that if I really trust in God, I wouldn’t feel this way and I’d get my act together. Perhaps afraid to actually pray a prayer like Psalm 88.
Here’s what I find interesting in the midst of all that. While the Psalmist is accusing God of overwhelming him, making him repulsive to his friends, leaving him with only darkness as a companion, we see 2 things that are an incredible testimony to God’s grace in the life of Psalm writer. First off he’s persistent in prayer. I cry out before you day and night; listen to my cry; my eyes are worn out from crying, Lord I cry out to you all day long, I spread out my hands to you; I call to you for help, Lord; in the morning my prayer meets you. To even continue to pray when all seems hopeless and so overwhelming is a grace from God. It’s a testimony of God’s working - that we have not forgotten that God is the Lord of our salvation.
And the Psalmist never denies or denounces God. He accuses God and places some blame on God - but He still calls him The God of His Salvation - still acknowledges He is the God who saves, He’s still the God he cries out to - He still believes and worships this God.
How does he do that? What do we make of this Psalm - and how do we see view it correctly to pray along with the Psalmist. The writer is Heman, pouring out his heart to God in a time that life seems to have overwhelmed him to the point of complete hopelessness. So if Heman prayed this Psalm, and Jesus prayed this Psalms - how do we connect all of this.
Well let’s go back to 2 of the lines we read on Sunday. In vv7 the Psalmist cries out your wrath weighs heavily upon me & vv16 your wrath sweeps over me. Think of the one who cried that out to the fullest extent - Jesus in the garden asking if there was any other way, did he really have to drink the cup of God’s wrath? The only way that you and I could be saved. And then think of Jesus upon the cross, crying out My God, My God, why have you forsaken me? Jesus knew a darkness and aloneness on that cross that has never been faced by you and I. The darkness of drinking the cup of God’s wrath & the overwhelmingness of being forsaken by God. And there in lies the hope and peace in this Psalm. Because Jesus prayed it to the full and walked that journey - we can pray this Psalm honestly and emotionally before God, because through Christ, God has declared this is not the end of the story. It will not end in darkness? As I said on Sunday - do you live with this belief - that this is not the end - that as Paul tells us in Philippians 3 our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
NSC, I don’t know what’s all going on in your life today. I agree that words in this Psalm often hit far closer to home than we might think we can acknowledge or pray - but God has given us this Psalm - to cry out to him - to persist in prayer to the God who’s saved us - who endured being forsaken on the cross - so the overwhelmingness we feel would not be the end of the story - this is not our final and real home.
May you live in that truth today, even amidst the hopelessness that sometimes surrounds our lives!