I hadn't been in the Bible much for the past couple of days and that's never a good thing. So this morning I finally dragged my lazy tush out of bed at what was supposed to be 5:30 but ended up more like 6:00.
Because of that I only got a few minutes before the house woke up, but man, 15 minutes is a whole heck of a lot better than 0.
And I read Psalm 88 which is maybe the saddest chapter in the Psalms if not the Bible.
Here's how it begins:
O LORD, the God who saves me,
day and night I cry out before you.
2 May my prayer come before you;
turn your ear to my cry.
3 For my soul is full of trouble
and my life draws near the grave
Now that's sorrow. And a lot of Psalms start out that way. People just raw before the Lord. People in real trouble. The difference with this Psalm is how it ends.
16 Your wrath has swept over me;
your terrors have destroyed me.
17 All day long they surround me like a flood;
they have completely engulfed me.
18 You have taken my companions and loved ones from me;
the darkness is my closest friend.
No resolution. No happy ending. No release from the tension. Why? Because, for a time, that's how life is. I'm not trying to be hopeless but a lot of people feel this way and there doesn't seem to be much of a way out this side of heaven because God's promises are not just for this life - they are for eternity.
But the wait for eternity can be a long one.
And one thing I've found out is that it's a whole lot better to wait together. The psalmist ends with the deepest of sadness that "you have taken my companions and loved ones from me; the darkness is my closest friend" I don't know much about Heman the Ezrahte, the author, but the man understood that suffering and suffering alone are worlds apart.
So this is dedicated to those of you who suffer. Unless you are in Guatemala, I cannot give you a hug or take you to coffee or sit and cry with you. But I can pray for you and ask the Lord to send someone your way. And I can ask that anyone else reading this, if you know someone whose closest friend is darkness, reach out to that person. In Matt 8 when a leper asked Jesus to heal him, Jesus reached out and touched him, shattering every social and religious no-no by the simplest of actions. This life is too short to be this long. Let's help each other through it.