O God, I call for help by day; I cry out in the night before Thee. LORD, let my prayer then come be fore Thee, Incline Thy ear, do not delay. My soul is full of troubles. Hear me: The darkness of Sheol draws near me.
I am as one down in the Pit, Like one among the dead forsaken. My strength and comfort Thou hast taken; LORD, hear my prayer and answer it. Cut off, as from Thy presence banished, I have from Thy remembrance vanished.
I’m plunged into the lowest grave; In regions dark and deep I languish. Thy wrath weighs on me in my anguish; I’m overwhelmed by all Thy waves. And of my friends Thou hast bereft me; They shunned me and in horror left me.
I’ll be honest with you, this is the first time I have written on a Psalm. It’s not that I dislike them, I don’t. I think they are beautifully poetic reflections and wrestling conversations with God. The reason I haven’t written on a Psalm was because they daunted me. I’d look at them and think “I couldn’t say anything worthwhile about that” so I simply avoided them. When I went to look at the rota, there were a lot of Psalms left so I felt it was time I bit the bullet and faced my fear. You’re probably asking “why have we been told this pointless story?” The thing is, it isn’t pointless, because Psalm 88 is all about fear, doubt and emotional distress. The first couple of verses are calling out to God, begging God to listen but we then have 16 verses where it is lament after lament.
When I read it, it reminded me of my journey with my mental health, verses 3-7 sounded just like some of my depressive times, I feel forsaken, cut off and in the depths of the pit. This causes me to withdraw from people which then means I feel completely isolated (verse 8), nothing sparks joy for me, I lose interest in all my passions and I look numb behind my eyes (verse 9). God can feel very far away, and completely disinterested in me (verse 12-18).
Now in my head I know that all those feelings are lies, mistruths, fake news. But when my depression is winning, my heart believes all of those things. It can be hard when you feel in your heart that God doesn’t care, I know because I have felt that. There is plenty of proof throughout Scripture that God is immensely interested in each and every one of us, but sometimes it is helpful to hear that those writers of the Bible despaired and were human.
Sometimes just knowing that what you are feeling has been felt before can be a comfort. Fear and pain are part of being human, but we have a God who knows those feelings and therefore is with us, even when we feel very far away from God.
God, there are days when I feel like you aren’t interested, but I know that you don’t stop loving me even when I can’t like myself. On those days God, hold me gently in the palm of your hand as if I’m made from broken crystal, so even if I don’t feel it, I will know that you are there, quietly and unobtrusively waiting until I am a little less numb. Amen.