Scripture: Psalm 88
Key verses: (13-14) “But I, O LORD, cry out to you; in the morning my prayer comes before you. . . Why do you hide your face from me?”
Reflection: Have you ever been so low that you couldn’t see any way out? Have the circumstances of your life challenged you to the point of despair? Eventually, each one of us will face a struggle that feels like it is beyond our capacity to endure. When that happens where will you turn?
Some people anesthetize themselves with work, alcohol and drugs. Some isolate themselves from others and build a wall around their pain. We know that some people choose to end their lives because they want relief. None of these things are good choices.
The Psalmist prays. He cries out to God and begs for mercy and salvation from the darkness that lies heavy upon him. He doubts God’s presence and feels like he is drowning. No answers come in this psalm. Life is like this sometimes. There are times when it feels like our prayers are hitting the ceiling and falling to the floor. We want relief, but it eludes us. We feel abandoned by God.
And yet . . . the psalmist doesn’t give up. He persists in his prayer. There is something therapeutic in saying what he is feeling. We can learn from this example. In the act of praying to God in our moments of deepest pain, we find strength and comfort. It’s alright to complain to God about what is happening to us, especially if we can’t make sense of our suffering. But, it’s been my observation that every prayer for help is followed by a waiting period. Relief doesn’t come right away – but it will come. So, I have taken great comfort in reading past Psalm 88 to the first line of Psalm 89 while I’m waiting.
I will sing of your steadfast love, O LORD, forever; with my mouth I will proclaim your faithfulness to all generations. I declare that your steadfast love is established forever; your faithfulness is as firm as the heavens. (Psalm 89:1)
This reminds me that God’s steadfast love endures forever – no matter what. This is the kind of hope we can cling to in our helplessness.
Prayer: O LORD, walk with us through our struggles. Give us the courage we need to ask for help in our time of need. Remind us that even when it feels like you have abandoned us, that nothing can separate us from your love. While we wait, help us cling to our faith. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Author: Deborah Conner
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].