Psalm 88 has been described as “the saddest psalm in the Psalter.” From beginning to end, Heman the Ezrahite’s words throb with immense pain in the midst of great darkness. Read slowly his words pregnant with anguish:
O Lord, God of my salvation,
I have cried out day and night before You.
Let my prayer come before You;
Incline Your ear to my cry.
For my soul is full of troubles,
And my life draws near to the grave.
I am counted with those who go down to the pit;
I am like a man who has no strength,
Adrift among the dead,
Like the slain who lie in the grave,
Whom You remember no more,
And who are cut off from Your hand.
You have laid me in the lowest pit,
In darkness, in the depths.
Your wrath lies heavy upon me,
And You have afflicted me with all Your waves. Selah
You have put away my acquaintances far from me;
You have made me an abomination to them;
I am shut up, and I cannot get out;
My eye wastes away because of affliction.
Lord, I have called daily upon You;
I have stretched out my hands to You.
Will You work wonders for the dead?
Shall the dead arise and praise You? Selah
Shall Your lovingkindness be declared in the grave?
Or Your faithfulness in the place of destruction?
Shall Your wonders be known in the dark?
And Your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?
But to You I have cried out, O Lord,
And in the morning my prayer comes before You.
Lord, why do You cast off my soul?
Why do You hide Your face from me?
I have been afflicted and ready to die from my youth;
I suffer Your terrors;
I am distraught.
Your fierce wrath has gone over me;
Your terrors have cut me off.
They came around me all day long like water;
They engulfed me altogether.
Loved one and friend You have put far from me,
And my acquaintances into darkness.
Faith in God is not all rainbows and unicorns. For the roots of our faith to grow deep with conviction, dark days must come. For our trust to grow we have to fall into various trials that test our faith and produce the precious fruit of spiritual grit and stick-to-it-iveness called “patience” (James 1:2-4).
Job, David, Asaph, Heman, Jesus, and many more testify that descending rain, rising floods, and violent winds (Matthew 7:24-25) are a fact of life for the wise man building his house upon the rock of obedience.
Trials are not proof of a lack of faith. They are not proof that God has been unfaithful to His promises. They are proof that you are human. They prove that you are not the exception to God’s refining process.
God chastises His children because He loves them. Therefore, “do not despise the chastening of the Lord nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the Lord loves He chastens and scourges every son whom He receives. If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten?” (Hebrews 12:5-7). Though Jesus was His only begotten Son—a perfect Son—He learned obedience by the things which He suffered (Hebrews 5:8).
God’s process of shaping His sons into His image and for His glory has no exceptions.