O Lord, God of my salvation, I have cried out day and night before You.
2 Let my prayer come before You; Incline Your ear to my cry.
3 For my soul is full of troubles, And my life draws near to the grave.
4 I am counted with those who go down to the pit; I am like a man who has no strength,
5 Adrift among the dead, Like the slain who lie in the grave, Whom You remember no more, And who are cut off from Your hand.
6 You have laid me in the lowest pit, In darkness, in the depths.
7 Your wrath lies heavy upon me, And You have afflicted me with all Your waves. Selah
8 You have put away my acquaintances far from me; You have made me an abomination to them; I am shut up, and I cannot get out;
9 My eye wastes away because of affliction. Lord, I have called daily upon You; I have stretched out my hands to You.
10 Will You work wonders for the dead? Shall the dead arise and praise You? Selah
11 Shall Your lovingkindness be declared in the grave? Or Your faithfulness in the place of destruction?
12 Shall Your wonders be known in the dark? And Your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?
13 But to You I have cried out, O Lord,
And in the morning my prayer comes before You.
14 Lord, why do You cast off my soul? Why do You hide Your face from me?
15 I have been afflicted and ready to die from my youth; I suffer Your terrors; I am distraught.
16 Your fierce wrath has gone over me; Your terrors have cut me off.
17 They came around me all day long like water; They engulfed me altogether.
18 Loved one and friend You have put far from me, And my acquaintances into darkness.
It’s okay to pray a Psalm 88 to God. It’s okay to be honest with him about your pain and your troubles…even your anger and your doubts. You aren’t going to scare God away with your anger, your tears, or your doubts. He’s big enough to handle them and, in fact, he welcomes them.
In a dark season, one of the biggest acts of faith you can do is to write a lament proclaiming your despair. Ironically, in giving voice to your despair and hopelessness, you are saying, “God, somehow I think your love is deeper and greater than all of this!” You may ask, “Where is the faith in Psalm 88?” It’s in the fact that Psalm 88 is recorded the way it is--unresolved and messy and painful--showing that even in our darkest hours God is transforming the story of our lives into the total praise that’s in Psalm 89.
We all have seasons of Psalm 88. Some of us will stay there for years. Some of us may even reach the end of our earthly days without any resolution to our greatest pains. Be honest with God about it. But don’t stop there.
PREACH Psalm 89 to yourself
Psalm 89:1 says, “I will sing of the steadfast love of the LORD, forever; with my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations.”
After praying Psalm 88 to God, we must preach Psalm 89 to ourselves. The hardest part of this is that you can’t experience the hope of Psalm 89 until you’ve sat for a while in the pain of Psalm 88. Psalm 89 faith that ignores Psalm 88 pain isn’t faith at all. We can’t sing about deliverance from suffering until we’ve truly walked through that suffering.
But we have to sing! When life is falling apart, it may be easier to pray a lament to God than to cling to the promises of God’s faithfulness. But both are valid. So when you’re in a Psalm 88 season, don’t abandon the principles of hope and belief from Psalm 89. When you feel like darkness is your closest friend, choose to believe that God is with you. When you feel like life is spiraling, choose to believe that God is still in control. When you feel like life will never get better, choose to believe that God is still good.
Sing to the Lord and make known his faithfulness in your life--even before you can feel it. Keep on praying Psalm 88 to God, and keep on preaching Psalm 89 to yourself. --JD Greear