WHEN UP AGAINST IT ALL Psalm 88

Psalm 88 is the gloomiest of psalms.  The only one finishing with hardly a glimmer of hope.  Concludes in the shadows of death and darkness.  What gives?

Well, the psalmist finds himself up against it all.  Troubles multiply.  Barely a trace of light at the end of his tunnel.  Dark clouds rule the roost.  Ever been there?  Who hasn’t?  Maybe that’s where you’re at right now?

As a believer in Jesus, I try, as often as possible, to see the upside in what I’m going through.  Some situations, many really, I leave in the Lord’s hands as I can’t make heads nor tails, rhyme nor reason as to the ‘why’ of whatever’s happening.  That’s where Psalm 88 helps.  Don’t think so?  Not sure?  Well, hear me out.

Almost from the get-go, the psalmist vents anger, frustration, disappointment, you name it, at his God–‘You have put me in the depths of the pit, in the regions dark and deep.  Your wrath lies heavy upon me…You have caused my companions to shun me…’ (Ps.88: 6-8).  You…you…you.  Read on.  There’s lots more where that came from.  The blame game points the finger directly at his God.

So, why is this poem in our Bibles?  Uplifting it’s not.  But maybe we’re not seeing the forest or the trees.  Could it be that God wants us to bring whatever we’re going through, all our gut feelings, our dreams and even nightmares, to Him?

Hide nothing from Him (as if we can).  Be bold.  Be direct with your Lord.  To Him.  And with Him.  He’s big enough.  He can take it.  Not like He’s never heard it before and probably worse.  But then I note little faith-glimmers in this psalm.  A lone sunbeam or two from the Lord.

My wife is so good at nursing dead-looking plants back to life.  I’m tempted to toss them into the compost heap.  I’ve learned to keep my grubby paws off them.  Over the winter a hardy hibiscus plant looks hardy no longer.  More like it’s pushing up daisies.  But that’s when my wife performs magic with her green thumbs.  And this summer we’ve had the most amazing, dinner-plate-sized hardy hibiscus ‘Starry Night’ blooms we’ve ever seen.  No thanks to me!

That’s similar to what I see in Psalm 88.  As the curtain rises, his opening words are these– ‘O Lord, God of my salvation…Let my prayer come before you…’ (vs. 1-2).  ‘My salvation’…’prayer’…’O Lord,
God…’ (he even uses God’s personal name of ‘Yahweh’ here).  Doesn’t it sound like he knows who to pray to and who has saved him, even though he drifts in and out of despair and depression?  That he knows where His hope lies?  And with whom?

Even when it seems like we’re hanging from an unwinding thread, remember who holds you with the tightest grip ever.  God will not let go.  You may think He has or will, but guess what?  You’re wrong!  Hear His promise–“…for he said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you'” (Heb. 13:5).  ‘Never’ still means never.

Thank you, Jesus, for always being our hope.  Amen.

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