In Chapter 12 of Walking with God through Pain and Suffering, Timothy Keller takes special note of two lamentation psalms famous for ending without any positive expressions of hope- Psalm 88 and Psalm 39. Specifically, the closing words of Psalm 88 are “darkness is my closest friend”. Pastor Keller adds that the psalmist is bluntly telling God that He isn’t the psalmist’s closest friend. Yet, when read in the light of the whole Bible, the text-as Pastor Keller notes- is a great resource and offers encouragement. The author believes Psalm 88 teaches us four things:
1. Believers can stay in darkness for a long time. Pastor Keller tells us this realistic, tough message is the central message of the psalm. Not only don’t things often work out quickly, but it’s not readily apparent why the adversity happened.
2. Times of darkness can reveal God’s grace in new depths. Derek Kidner writes: “The very presence of such prayers in Scripture is a witness to His understanding. He knows how men speak when they are desperate.”
3. In unrelenting darkness we have the greatest opportunity to defeat the forces of evil. This choice really isn’t available in better times- and when the darkness lessens or lifts, we’ll find our reliance on God has grown as we have new strength and contentment in God alone.
4. Our darkness can be relativized by Jesus’ darkness. Jesus experience the ultimate darkness, truly abandoned by God. As Pastor Keller observes, “we only seem to be or feel abandoned by him.”
Today’s question: Which of the 4 lessons speaks most meaningfully to your current situation? Please share.
Tomorrow’s blog: the Short Meditation for Valentine’s Day- “An undivided heart”