“Hello darkness, my old friend…” Simon and Garfunkel
“You have taken from me friend and neighbor – darkness is my closest friend.” Psalm 88:18
Psalm 88 is one of the darkest psalms. It’s uncomfortable to read, but we must read it if we are to understand how prayer works. Prayer is a processing of emotion, a spiritual catharsis.
Heman the Ezrahite declares that the LORD is his God, the God of his salvation, but honesty compels him to also declare the intensity of his despair.
His soul is full of trouble, he has no strength, he feels near death.
He declares that God is behind his troubles. God has put him in the depths of the pit and his wrath lies heavy upon him.
But he keeps praying. He keeps crying out. He asks why??
Heman is completely alone by the end of the psalm and describes God’s doings toward him as a flood of dreadful assaults.
Most psalms that are in the lament category end on a positive note; as you read you see the change in the psalmist as he reminds himself of God’s character and his ways. Not this one.
But if we’re honest, that’s how a lot of honest prayer ends. There isn’t always a resolution. We can’t always tie a beautiful bow on the end.
Don’t be afraid to read these psalms. Yes, they are uncomfortable, and yes, they leave us with further questions about God and prayer. But we need them. They expand our prayer vocabulary and teach us that we’re not alone in experiencing times of darkness.