Pleasing God, Making Disciples of Jesus Christ

The Breath of a Good Christian

PSALM 88 – A Song. A Psalm of the Sons of Korah. To the choirmaster: according to Mahalath Leannoth. A Maskil of Heman the Ezrahite. O Lord, God of my salvation, I cry out day and night before you. Letmy prayer come before you; incline your ear to my cry! For my soul is full of troubles, and my life draws near to Sheol. I am counted among those who go down to the pit; I am a man who has no strength, like one set loose among the dead, like the slain that lie in the grave, like those whom you remember no more, for they are cut off from your hand. You have put me in the depths of the pit, in the regions dark and deep. Your wrath lies heavy upon me, and you overwhelm me with all your waves.Selah You have caused my companions to shun me; you have made me a horror to them. I am shut in so that I cannot escape; my eye grows dim through sorrow. Every day I call upon you, O Lord; I spread out my hands to you. Do you work wonders for the dead? Do the departed rise up to praise you? Selah Is your steadfast love declared in the grave, or your faithfulness in Abaddon? Are your wonders known in the darkness, or your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness? But I, O Lord, cry to you; in the morning my prayer comes before you. O Lord, why do you cast my soul away? Why do you hide your face from me? Afflicted and close to death from my youth up, I suffer your terrors; I am helpless. Your wrath has swept over me; your dreadful assaults destroy me. They surround me like a flood all daylong; they close in on me together. You have caused my beloved and my friend to shun me; my companions have become darkness.”

Today’s nugget differs from most. It contains a very large portion of scripture. In fact, the whole of Psalm 88. The reason is two-fold. First, it is far more important to read the Words of God than the words of a flawed man. Next, to really grasp what the Sons of Korah are experiencing, we need to enter the entirety of the Psalm. What we are witnessing and hearing through the cries from of hearts of the Psalmists is intense and, in some measure, will be experienced by every child of God. I know it seems quite contrary to happy in Jesus, abundant life in Jesus, great joy in Jesus, and singing the great hymn It is Well with My Soul. Yet what unfolds are some of the depths a true believer may go . . .my soul is full of troubles, I am a man who has no strength, you overwhelm with all your waves, my companions shun me, I am shut in so that I cannot escape, my eye grows dim through sorrow, my soul is cast away, you hide your face from me, your dreadful assaults destroy me, my companions have become darkness. These are the mysterious workings of God and as we observe and identify with them, there is “a ray of sunshine” in the darkness. In fact, there is something we find practiced by the Psalmists that brings assurance of our salvation and hope in a Psalm of hopelessness. It is found in verses two, nine, and thirteen. Prayer-O Lord, God of my salvation, I cry out day and night before you; every day I call upon you; I, O Lord, cry to you; in the morning my prayer comes before you.

When life is overwhelming; when we enter into depths of spiritual discouragement even depression; when God feels so far away and disinterested in us what do we do and where do we go? The true child of God goes to prayer. It might be the type with few words, the language of a hurting soul not knowing how to express itself, but prayer will be sought. Why? The very breath of a Christian is prayer. It is as natural to the spiritually minded person as it is in our physical existence.

Yes, Psalm 88 is a dark place full of much spiritual pain, but it also is a Psalm of assurance revealing where the child of God runs to in the pain–prayer to know the God of all comfort.

PRAYER: “Father, even in the darkest of times in my soul, I praise You for the impulse for prayer.”
QUOTE: “A sign of adoption, assurance of salvation, is the cry of prayer from a hurting child of God.”

Because of Him,
Pastor Jim