Psalm 88:13-18    But I cry to you for help, O LORD; in the morning my prayer comes before you.  Why, O LORD, do you reject me and hide your face from me?  From my youth I have been afflicted and close to death; I have suffered your terrors and am in despair.  Your wrath has swept over me; your terrors have destroyed me.  All day long they surround me like a flood; they have completely engulfed me.  You have taken my companions and loved ones from me; the darkness is my closest friend.

There are many Psalms that express the feelings of someone who feels cut off from God and are at an inescapable spiritual ‘low’.  But I think this is the ONLY one that ENDS on this ‘hopeless’ note!  Everywhere else the psalmist expresses some relief that his prayers HAVE BEEN heard, and, in spite of his feelings, there IS HOPE that can be found in his God.  Perhaps many of us can find true empathy, therefore, in this psalm!

But don’t you feel you would like to seek out the psalmist, put your arm tightly around his shoulder, and say to him, “Don’t despair, good friend.  Let me tell you about someone who came down from heaven where he had enjoyed perfect, intimate fellowship with the Father and the Holy Spirit from eternity past, and he experienced EVERYTHING you are feeling, FOR YOU, in his own person.

You say to God, ‘Your wrath has swept over me’ – well HE has borne the full impact of all God’s wrath in order to protect YOU from it.  You say, ‘You have taken my companions and loved ones from me; the darkness is my closest friend.’ – all HIS friends deserted HIM in HIS darkest hour.  You ask, ‘Why, O LORD, do you reject me and hide your face from me?’ – HE asked the same question in a cry of anguish from his cross: ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ (Mark 15:34)”.

There are two significant things for US in all this: Firstly, although the psalmist lived at a time when all these things you want to tell him were only FORESHADOWED in God’s revelation of himself (and it would be a thousand years before they were actually worked out and fulfilled in human history), WE can KNOW them and TAKE COMFORT in them NOW, so when we read Psalm 88, and identify fully with the feelings it arouses in us in our own experience, we can GIVE THANKS to God with greater enthusiasm for all that Jesus was prepared to suffer FOR US in order that WE might have PEACE, knowing that HE truly IS the Prince of Peace, and the ONLY Saviour!

And secondly, we can be encouraged by the fact that the psalmist, although feeling absolutely hopeLESS, defeated, demoralised and abandoned, still cried out to his faithful Covenant LORD for help.  Do you?