Psalm 88 - A Psalm for Desperate Times, Why do I suffer?

“Do you work wonders for the dead?  Do ghosts rise up and give you thanks?”

My Dad has been stuck in a long-term care facility for over a year now. He has wound that won’t stay healed no matter how much care and treatment the staff gives him. He is beyond tired of being there and has struggled to keep his hopes up about ever getting back to his own house again. 

God and prayer have certainly helped him but it is always hard to make sense of human suffering.

Psalm 88 is a difficult psalm to read because it captures the depth and emotion of someone who has struggled in desperation for a long time. 

Psalm 88 has probably never been on a Hallmark Card or in a Disney Movie, but it is a valuable treasure. Its value comes in finding that we are not the first ones to struggle to understand where God is in the midst of desperate times.

The psalm captures the raw emotion of someone who cannot make sense of their suffering. 

They plead with God, they try to strike a bargain with God, and even sarcastically ask “Who is going to praise you God if I die?”  He asks so many questions but is given no answer.  All of his efforts come to no avail.  The quick fix he hopes for does not show up, the miracle does not occur, friends move on with their lives, and the psalm ends in darkness. 

I find comfort in knowing that my Dad is not alone. I find comfort in knowing that he has a savior in Jesus Christ who endured horrible moments of suffering as well.  Jesus who was abandoned by friends and family, who suffered a cruel punishment he did not deserve, and knew the pain of wondering where God was when he needed him most. 

The resurrection reminds each of us of how God can redeem even the most tragic and difficult moments of our life. 

The resurrection of Christ reminds us that our pain and hardship does not go unnoticed by God. It also reminds us that the questions that may torment those that suffer in this life will find answers in the next because the same God who is with us in the darkness will be there for us in the light of the resurrection. 

Rev. Rick Ivey is the Senior Pastor of Wesley United Methodist Church in Beaumont, Texas. If you are looking for a church home and you are in the Beaumont area, Rick would love to have you stop by to worship with he and the rest of his congregation.

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