Old Testament Reading: Deuteronomy 23 & 24
Psalms Reading: Psalm 88
New Testament Reading: Galatians 4
Life is hard. There are terrible things that all people, even Christians, experience simply because we live in a fallen and sinful world. Some of the hard things people experience are because of their own poor choices, others are because of someone else’s poor choices, and still others are simply things that cannot be controlled. Financial stress comes to those who are unwise with their money, car accidents happen when people are paying attention to their phone instead of the road, sickness such as cancer can occur in the healthiest and best people. Life is hard.
This Psalm (88) is written by Heman the Ezrahite, and unlike most other laments in Psalms, it doesn’t end on a positive, hopeful, note. Instead, it concludes with darkness. This psalmist equates his life’s troubles to nearing Sheol (v.3). He feels weak, overwhelmed, desperate, rejected, and lonely. Heman writes that his eyes are worn out from crying out all day long (v.9).
If you’re like me, you may be wondering why in the world this Psalm is included in Scripture… it offers no hope and seemingly no connection to an amazing God. Why would this be allowed in the Bible?? Doesn’t it turn others off our faith to have someone just writing about how hard life is, even after worshiping God? How does this chapter bring me anything for my faith walk if it’s just about sadness?
Well, despite being credited as one of the saddest psalms, after some prayerful consideration I also see how important this psalm can be. Throughout the psalm Heman writes about coming to God, crying out to Him, raising his hands to the Lord, and continually praying (vv.1, 9, 13). It seems that even with his world crashing down around him and when he feels like he is drowning, his first reaction is to reach out to God. What an example of faithful living!
The life of a Christian is never stated to be easy. In fact, there are times in everyone’s life that I would expect them to be in a similar place as Heman was when writing this psalm. Overwhelmed, exhausted, alone, in the dark. If God ‘allowed’ this psalm to be part of his God-breathed Scriptures, then we have to believe it holds value for our lives. There must be value in the pain and hardship that Heman describes, and the pain we still go through in the modern day. The lesson we can take away from Heman’s writing is that in all the pain, we can always come to God. Whether it’s through prayer or simply crying out, God is there to hear us no matter where we are in our life.
Heman wrote this psalm long before Christ came around. While he had hope of a coming Savior, our hope resides in a Savior who came, and is coming again. How does this change our laments or prayers to God?
Balancing hopeful positivity and the real difficulty of life is truly an art. How does what we know about God impact this balance in your life?
What did God reveal to you about his character in this passage?
Lord, we live in a broken, sinful world. This life is hard. Today we pray for you to comfort those who are struggling, to give strength and hope to those who need it. But we also pray that no matter what life circumstances they are in, they ultimately know that they can go to you in any form. God, thank you for the hope we have in Christ Jesus. We are excited for your Kingdom to be brought to earth where there will be no more suffering. We longingly look to that day. Amen.
-Sarah (Blanchard) Johnson