Old Testament psalms that start off with conflict or lament usually end on a note of hope or even triumph.
Psalm 88 breaks the mould; there’s no silver lining. The writer despairs of answering the question, why God is allowing him to suffer. The final verse, ‘darkness is my only companion’, is like music ending on an unresolved chord.
Darkness is my only companion Psalm 88.18 (GNB)
Paradoxically, faith – a tried and tested comforter in times of trouble – can sometimes complicate things. An atheist may tell you not to agonise over why stuff happens, because there is no ultimate meaning. The psalmist agonises, because even in the teeth of suffering, he refuses to let go of faith.
Read Psalm 88 and you’ll notice that, while the fog won’t lift, all the time the writer keeps on calling out to God. The message is clear: prayers may remain unanswered, but praying is never pointless.
Author: Michael Pfundner, 22 May 2020 (Last updated: 26 May 2020)
Locals gathered at St Margaret’s Church in Binsey, Oxfordshire, to create a Psalm 23-inspired garden.