Hope, On Even The Darkest Of Days (Psalm 88)


The sun rises behind the dark cloud, you’ve been waiting all night just to watch the dawn; hoping it will somehow lighten your hopelessness.

You feel like you cannot cry anymore, no-one cares, no-one listens, no-one understands.

Worries, questions, depression, doubts, and anxiety weigh in on you.

And, after a night of pain, searching, and sobbing prayers, you feel as if even heaven has shut it’s doors to you; your feeble words not even passing past the walls.

My friend, can you relate to this, do you know this place?
Perhaps you find yourself here even as you read this. If this is you, keep reading, you are not alone.

First, take a few minutes and read Psalm 88

This Psalm has often been dubbed as being the ‘darkest passage of Scripture’, and you can immediately see why. The writer jumps straight into the reality of their situation:

O Lord, God of my salvation, 
I cry out day and night before you. 
Let my prayer come before you; 
incline your ear to my cry! 
For my soul is full of troubles, 
and my life draws near to Sheol”

There’s no doubt they are in a bad place, so bad in fact that they feel as if they are close to death itself:

“[I am] like one set loose among the dead, like the slain that lie in the grave, 
like those whom you remember no more
for they are cut off from your hand”

Not only close to death, but as if God has cut them off from himself, as if they have been left completely on their own.
And rather than turn the corner, rather than the Psalmist being relieved from his pain and misery, it appears to only deepen, I think verses 6-7 really summarise the situation:

You have put me in the depths of the pit, in the regions dark and deep. 
Your wrath lies heavy upon me, 
and you overwhelm me with all your waves. Selah”

As you read to the end of the Psalm, you will see that his situation does not improve, in fact his complaints grow and it only seems to get worse and worse.
So the question has to be asked, where is the hope in this Psalm?!

Let me offer 3 glimmers of hope from the Psalm:

  1. Honesty
    This Psalm plainly reminds us that believers will, and do, face times of great pain, sadness, and trial.
    We live in a sin-broken world, a world that has been marred with evil. And that will be felt in the life of the Christian, just as much as in that of the non-believer.
    The only difference is that the Christian is held secure by the eternal promise keeping creator of the universe – that’s not to say we will always ‘feel’ this, but it is a reality nonetheless.
    I know of a believer that has suffered deep depression for ~10 years, they said that this Psalm and it’s honesty was a great help to them, in the midst of the darkness it helped them put words to what they were going through.
  2. Sovereignty
    On first reading it does sound as if he is blaming God for all that is happening to him, ‘You have caused..’,’You have put..’ etc. (See also Psalm 42)
    Rather than blame, this appears to be recognition of the sovereignty of God.
    He is King, He rules and, He reigns. And He is allowing these things to take place in the life of the man, now this might sound like a strange comfort, but we have to ask ourselves what’s the alternative?
    Well, a God that is not in control, that is not Sovereign, that can do nothing about a situation, not a God worthy of any worship
    Instead we see in this Psalm, as we do throughout all of Scripture our God reigns supreme. And all is done according to His perfect will and plan, which ultimately will lead to His name being glorified and for the eventual good of his beloved people (Romans 8).
  3. Prayer
    As we read this Psalm, we are reading a real prayer of a real person, who really suffered and felt what they then wrote down.
    Even though the Psalmist declares God had ‘hidden his face’ from him. He still carries on the rest of the Psalm, he still offers his prayer up to God.
    Because Jesus is our intercessor, because He alone carries our prayers to the Father, because He himself continually offers up prayers on our behalf, we can have the confidence to carry on praying – even in the midst of darkness.  (Hebrews 7:25)
    Knowing, not only, that our prayers are heard, but also that our Saviour knows exactly and intimately the pain and trial we are facing:“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.
    Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” – Hebrews 4:15-16
    “Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.
    For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” – Hebrews 2:7-18

This is not a sermon, not a complete look at the Psalm, but just a few thoughts for any echoing similar thoughts as expressed in the Psalm.
Don’t suffer alone, read the Word,pray, pray, and keep praying.
I’d also encourage you to share your struggles with a brother/sister, ask them to pray with you and for you.

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