Psalm 88 today. This is a very interesting psalm, written by the descendants of Korah, because it’s the only psalm I know of (and I could be wrong, search with me!) where there is absolutely no hope at all expressed in it. It’s written by someone in deep, deep distress. He is crying out to God continually (vs1), begging God to hear his prayer (vs 2). His life is full of troubles and he’s nearing death (vs 3). People have written him off as dead and forgotten (vss 4,5). He’s in the pits, in life’s darkest depths, feels God’s anger on him. Even his friends have left him (vss 7,8)! His eyes are blinded by his tears, crying out to God for mercy (vs 9). He really feels he will die soon (vss 10-12). He keeps on crying out to God, asking why he’s been rejected, so sick, so close to death (vss 13-15)--and here’s a kicker: it’s been this way since his youth!! He’s lonely, facing life’s terrors (vss 16-18)...and then the psalm ends. There’s no “But God”. There’s no hope. No miracle. Just silence.
How does a person of faith read this psalm without great discouragement? Here’s my answer: all this happened before the Cross. The psalmist wrote all this without the shadow of the Cross, without the knowledge that God entered human history and went through all the suffering we go through. We always remember we have a great and mighty Savior who has experienced everything we have experienced. He then comforts us in our times of need. He assures us of his presence, even in the valley of the shadow of death. He forces us to realize that this life is not all there is, there is one to come that is greater than we can imagine as we trust in him. In Romans 8 and Philippians 3 Paul reminds Christians that we do know his joy, the power of his resurrection, but we also “share in his sufferings”.
Do you feel hopeless today? Has despair overwhelmed you? First, please know of my compassion for your pain. But also, please remember to always confront your pain through the Cross. The descendants didn’t have it. Therefore, pain had no hope. But we Christians DO have the Cross. Therefore, we always “grieve with hope” (I Thessalonians 4:13).