The Empathy of God
By; David Yim
Key Passage: Psalm 88
O Lord, God of my salvation, I cry out day and night before you.
2 Let my prayer come before you; incline your ear to my cry!
3 For my soul is full of troubles, and my life draws near to Sheol.
4 I am counted among those who go down to the pit; I am a man
who has no strength, 5 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. 6 You have put me in the depths
of the pit, in the regions dark and deep. 7 Your wrath lies heavy upon
me, and you overwhelm me with all your waves. 8 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; 9 my eye grows dim through sorrow.
Every day I call upon you, O Lord; I spread out my hands to you.
10 Do you work wonders for the dead? Do the departed rise up to praise you?
11 Is your steadfast love declared in the grave, or your faithfulness in Abaddon?
12 Are your wonders known in the darkness, or your righteousness
in the land of forgetfulness? 13 But I, O Lord, cry to you; in the morning
my prayer comes before you. 14 O Lord, why do you cast my soul away?
Why do you hide your face from me? 15 Afflicted and close to death
from my youth up, I suffer your terrors; I am helpless. 16 Your wrath has swept over me;
your dreadful assaults destroy me. 17 They surround me like a flood all day long;
they close in on me together. 18 You have caused my beloved and my friend to shun me;
my companions have become darkness
Psalm 88 can be seen and understood as the darkest and saddest
song in this book. Ironically, it is one of the most honest and touching.
Most Psalms start with a plea and remembrance of God’s faithfulness,
but in this Psalm, there is no remembrance; there is no hope. In Psalm 88,
the Psalmist expresses his agony and pain to God, but in the end he writes
“darkness is my closest friend”. The Psalmist feels totally abandoned by God.
Why would God’s word contain a Psalm that has no hope and glitter for His children?
Where is the message of hope and healing?
If we can be honest with ourselves, there are many times that we feel the
exact same way that the Psalmist does in this passage. There are times
where it doesn’t matter what we know or hear; there are simply times
when we only know despair. There are times when darkness is truly our
only friend. God knows we have moments and times like this. That’s why
it’s here in the Bible. God fully understands our human struggles.
If darkness feels like our closest friend, we need to understand this.
God is not expecting us to lift ourselves up and to have a better mindset and spirit.
God understands our hurting and he understands our heart. Through Psalm 88,
He is hurting with us, but also reminds us that though we may feel the same way
as this Psalmist, we are actually never truly abandoned by Him. It was Christ who
was forsaken by God, so that you and I can only feel forsaken, but never truly be forsaken.
This is our hope in Christ.