It’s a Psalm written in black ink on black paper. I can’t find a glimmer of light in its 18 verses. Psalm 88 is the worst psalm in Scripture. Strangely enough in Hebrew, the last word of the last sentence is “darkness.” I suppose that explains a lot about its content and significance.
Within its dark words, we see and hear much that we’d rather not.
A commentator describes Psalms 88 as “the public confession of persons excommunicated.” Others suggest that the writer has discovered he has the physical disease of leprosy. This Psalm is bitter and hard. Its companions are the book of Job and Lamentations. They’re part of the Word of God we would rather forget.
As believers in Jesus Christ, how do we deal with such awful darkness?
I dare you to read verses 3-5 of Psalm 88. They pronounce the depth of the afflicted:
I’ve had my fill of trouble;
I’m camped on the edge of hell.
I’m written off as a lost cause,
one more statistic, a hopeless case.
Abandoned as already dead,
one more body in a stack of corpses,
And not so much as a gravestone—
I’m a black hole in oblivion.
You’ve dropped me into a bottomless pit,
sunk me in a pitch-black abyss.
Psalm 88 is nothing less than a scream of pain directed at God.
It’s the almost animal screech of the human heart that encounters the worst. Some would suggest that a believer is immune from this kind of darkness, that as a believer in Christ’s victory we’re exempt and delivered from these things.
Explain that to the man who loses his family in a car crash, or to the woman who has just been told she has leukemia. What about the young girl who has just been brutally attacked and raped? Where is God then?
Is there room in your personal theology for such terrible darkness?
We’re not immune from tragedy as believers. It’s a part of living in a fallen world. If anything at all, pain teaches us things we’ll never learn in the sterility of a classroom. If we’re going to survive this suffering it will mean we’ll need to throw ourselves on God like never before.
God has not suddenly lost control of the universe, or, of your life.
If we turn to God in faith, like a little child, we will be led (far too slowly it seems) through our hard (impossible?) things. And we’ll understand what faith really is, and we’ll learn how to love like never before.
We are following Jesus and He has led us to this grief for His reasons.
Most jewelers will display their most precious diamonds on a black background. Perhaps that helps us sort this out. Hebrews 12:5-13 is a bit of a challenge. In theory, we grasp it, but in reality, it’s bittersweet. The sweet part is His closeness–we’re sons and daughters!
“Endure suffering as discipline: God is dealing with you as sons. For what son is there that a father does not discipline?”
Hebrews 12:7, CSB
Bring your pain and suffering into His tender light, and do so repeatedly. Let the gentle arms of the crucified One hold you close. Pour your heart out to Him-if you’re broken then bring Him the pieces. I encourage you to not waste your sorrows.