1 Chronicles 23:1–23:32; 2 Timothy 3:1–9; Psalm 88
Sometimes we go through dark periods in our lives where the misery feels never-ending. Trial hits, pain hits, and just when we think life might get “back to normal,” we are hit by yet another difficulty. At times like these, we may feel forgotten by God.
In Psalm 88, we find one of the most utter prolonged cries of despair: “O Yahweh, God of my salvation, I cry out by day and through the night before you,” the psalmist begins (Psa 88:1). This psalm never climaxes or hints of hope, and it ends even more desperately than it begins. The psalmist, feeling abandoned by God, has his loved ones taken from him. He is left to navigate the darkness alone (Psa 88:18).
How do we deal with our own misery when confronted by a tragic psalm like this? How should we respond to God?
We can start with what the psalmist, despite his prolonged suffering, acknowledges about God. Although his troubles are still present, he also recognizes God as his deliverer (Psa 88:6–9). He appeals to God’s reputation as a God of wonders, deserving of praise: “Do you work wonders from the dead? Or do the departed spirits rise up to praise you?” (Psa 88:10). He appeals to God’s loyal love, faithfulness, and righteousness: “Is your loyal love told in the grave, or your faithfulness in the underworld? Are your wonders known in the darkness or your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?” (Psa 88:11).
The psalmist never comes to a place where he expresses even a glimmer of hope. But through cries, questions, and torment, he holds on to what he knows to be true about God. In his very cry, the psalmist acknowledges that God will be present in his situation. While the questions in this psalm remain unanswered, we see that the psalmist lives in the awareness that God cares and will eventually act. In the meantime, he places himself in God’s faithfulness.
We see a parallel situation in Paul’s letter to Timothy; Paul addresses the difficult days that will come. He says they will be difficult for one reason: disobedience. In those days, “people will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, arrogant, slanderers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, hardhearted, irreconcilable, slanderous, without self-control, savage, with no interest for what is good” (2 Tim 3:2–3). The list goes on further, describes all types of disobedience against God—something that is absent from the psalmist’s cries. What’s most fascinating about the parallel is that it hints at the root of what the psalmist is experiencing: disobedience may not be acknowledged in his cry (he is innocent), but the world is a disobedient place. It is full of sin and oppression. Ultimately, it’s the sins of humanity that brought pain to the world.
In this life, we’ll go through dark times and struggles that may never end. We may even feel forgotten. But despite what we think or feel, we can’t abandon what we know to be true of God. Even when our state or our emotions are contrary to the desire to worship Him, we are called to trust in Him and in His love.
If He was willing to abandon His only son on a cross to redeem you, then He is certainly trustworthy. If you trust in Him, He will not forsake you.
How are you trusting God through dark times? How are you reaching out to someone who is struggling?
Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan