Lord, you are the God who saves me;
day and night I cry out to you.
May my prayer come before you;
turn your ear to my cry.
I am overwhelmed with troubles
and my life draws near to death.
I am counted among those who go down to the pit;
I am like one without strength.
I am set apart with the dead,
like the slain who lie in the grave,
whom you remember no more,
who are cut off from your care.
This is not happy clappy Christianity
This is not victorious living
This is not escapism in religious garb
This is darkness
This is devastation
This is ‘an embarrassment to conventional faith’ (Brueggemann)
This is ‘darkness all day long’ (J. Clinton McCann)
This is going down
This is drowning
This is the dying of the light
This is the dying of every light
This is despair
This is Psalm 88
This is honesty
This is his experience
This is our experience
‘My students have pointed out to me and argued in many papers, [that] perhaps there is more God-confidence in this Psalm than I recognise. Despite what the psalmist says about God, he still reaches out to God.
‘We often judge faithfulness on the basis of praise – the more enthusiastic the better. But, for the psalmists, it is not so much what we say to God that makes us faithful – the superlatives of praise – but that we keep coming back, reaching out to God when there is little evidence to suggest that God is remotely interested. Maybe we can only sigh a muffled cry in the dark. But directed to God, a tear-soaked allegation of betrayal may be the most courageous faith ever voiced.’ (Glenn Pemberton, Hurting with God)