Unlike other psalms of lament, Psalm 88 does not end in worship. It ends where it began – in a darkness punctuated only by anguished prayer. Or does it?
The text reminds us that our Lord keeps us safe, works miracles, is full of love, loyalty and saving power. Yet its author has also experienced this Lord as One who attacks with fierce anger, who forgets, who doesn’t help, who rejects, who remains silent in the face of daily pleas. Can the Lord who keeps us safe also be the One who remains silent when we need him to act with justice and mercy?
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Jesus cries on the cross.
Jesus plumbed the terrible depth of God’s silence. And yet he shouts: “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit,” moments before he dies. The God who turned away from a Son is still Father. “You keep me safe, LORD God. So when I pray at night, please listen carefully to each of my concerns,” begins the writer of Psalm 88. He begins there. And so must we.
“Got to kick at the darkness ’til it bleeds daylight,” writes Canadian songwriter Bruce Cockburn. The pain, death and unfairness we all experience in some form demand that we do just that. Psalm 88 gives us permission to pray the hard questions and encourages us to keep praying. Resurrection daylight will come.
Our Comforter, you meet the needs of those who suffer. We need faith to keep praying our suffering through your silence so that we may know your resurrection power. In Jesus’ name. Amen
By Renee James