Praying in Despair

I was chatting with some friends earlier about the Psalms, and Psalm 88 came up.

This is probably the bleakest prayer you’ll read in scripture, being without any form of optimism beyond the first line.

It looks like the Psalmist has no hope, but I think this is one of the most brutally honest passages in scripture and it serves as a reminder that it’s ok to bring anything to God.

He acknowledges God’s sovereignty in the situation and knows that only He is capable of rescuing him from it- in short, the Psalm serves as a good example of continuing to bring concerns to God, even if no answer or rescue is imminent.

A Song. A Psalm of the Sons of Korah. To the choirmaster: according to Mahalath Leannoth. A Maskil of Heman the Ezrahite.

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.
I am counted among those who go down to the pit;
    I am a man who has no strength,
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.
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

You have caused my companions to shun me;
    you have made me a horror to them.
I am shut in so that I cannot escape;
    my eye grows dim through sorrow.
Every day I call upon you, O Lord;
    I spread out my hands to you.
Do you work wonders for the dead?
    Do the departed rise up to praise you? Selah

Is your steadfast love declared in the grave,
    or your faithfulness in Abaddon?
Are your wonders known in the darkness,
    or your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?

But I, O Lord, cry to you;
    in the morning my prayer comes before you.
O Lord, why do you cast my soul away?
    Why do you hide your face from me?
Afflicted and close to death from my youth up,
    I suffer your terrors; I am helpless. 
Your wrath has swept over me;
    your dreadful assaults destroy me.
They surround me like a flood all day long;
    they close in on me together.
You have caused my beloved and my friend to shun me;
    my companions have become darkness.

 

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