Psalm 88 is a friend to the darkness and unknown. The writer begs, “incline your ear to my cry,” as if God had not been listening all along, as if God’s ear had not already been bent toward the person in the “dark and deep.” Nothing is outside God’s blame, either. The writer of Psalm 88 says that God is the one who “caused my companions to shun me.” They feel “shut in” and “cannot escape.” The constant tears do not stop and their eyes “grow dim with sorrow.” This has been going on long enough for the writer to say, “everyday I call on you.” The writer feels abandonment, fear, pain, sorrow. This person feels entombed, boxed in, surrounded, unable to escape, with no one to come to their aid. The last words of the psalm do not turn to praise but instead the tears continue and the writer feels cast off, hidden from God’s presence.
Sometimes I am surprised by the stark unguarded honesty of these kinds of Psalms of lament, but ultimately the words of these ancient people of faith give us too, permission to lament, to lay it all out there, to complain and cry and acknowledge what is hard.
May this prayer bear you up to the God who hears our cries.
Let us pray:
Just for today, what does it matter,
O Lord, if the future is dark?
To pray now for tomorrow I am not able.
Keep my heart only for today,
grant me your light— just for today.
—Teresa of Lisieux, 1873–1897