“You have taken away my companions and loved ones. Darkness is my closest friend.” —Psalm 88:18
Psalm 88 isn’t typically the first passage of choice when it comes to short devotional reflections. In fact, upon first reading this passage, it even feels out of place among the other Psalms. Many of the Psalms declare God’s goodness and give reason for praise, while others wrestle with pain and heartache. Yet typically, even the Psalms we would classify as Psalms of lament or supplication have some sentiment of “even still, God, I will worship you.”
However, Psalm 88 doesn’t seem to have an “even still, God, I will worship you” section. In fact, the last verse of the chapter ends with the psalmist blaming God once again for the trauma that is taking place and concludes with the grim statement: “Darkness is my closest friend.” I have to admit that this passage in its entirety leaves me feeling unsettled due to its lack of resolution. There are feelings of blame, anger, doubt, grief, and abandonment without any sign of relief.
Before you continue, read Psalm 88 and ask yourself, “What feelings, sensations, or thoughts come up as I engage with this passage?”
Psalm 88 invites us to create space for unresolved grief, trauma, and disappointment. As Christians, we tend to rush past moments that have wounded us. We say things like, “God is working all things for good!” and “Just trust Him, He will take care of it all.” These statements are true, yet at times they may do more harm than good if they are used to cover up the tender parts within our stories we are either too scared or uncomfortable to visit.
Are there any wounds of anger, disappointment, grief, or trauma that you or others have covered up? Please don’t misunderstand me—I don’t want to diminish the power of declaring God’s goodness in the midst of heartache. Choosing to worship despite what you are feeling and no matter your circumstances can be a redemptive, healing process.
However, Psalm 88 reminds us that we also need to create space to become undone.
The beauty of this passage is that these raw emotions were had in the psalmist’s dialogue with God. Rushing past or covering up wounds will only build walls between you and God, and perhaps with others. However, it is when you are boldly vulnerable and invite God into these spaces that He can begin to do His healing work within you.
Today, I challenge you to sit in the discomforts of your life and be completely honest with every part of your story. Remember, your relationship with God is upheld by His grace and love, not by your performance and effort.
Prayer for the week: Father, help us explore and tend to even the most broken and grief-stricken parts of our stories. We invite Your healing presence and trust Your steady hands.
Sarah Fredricks is Associate Pastor at Living Hope Church of the Nazarene in Olathe, Kansas, USA.
Written for Coffee Break.