I Cry Out Day and Night Before You
A Song. A Psalm of the Sons of Korah. To the choirmaster: according to Mahalath Leannoth. A Maskil of Heman the Ezrahite.
1O LORD, God of my salvation;
I cry out day and night before you.
2Let my prayer come before you;
incline your ear to my cry!
3For my soul is full of troubles,
and my life draws near to Sheol.
4I am counted among those who go down to the pit;
I am a man who has no strength,
5like 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.
Psalm 88 has long been one of my two favorite psalms of lament. The other, a close second, is Psalm 13.
Today’s lament really started in earnest yesterday afternoon. I was driving away from school and there was a runner with an amazing body standing at the intersection that I didn’t just lust over…I was full-on envious.
Then this morning, I saw two or three guys who I find myself being very intimidated by at chapel. They seem very articulate and talented and like they’ll be good pastors. And they’re all really attractive on top of all of that. And they wear that attractiveness like it doesn’t really matter to them…they could take or leave it.
Oh, to be that bold. To have the security to hold one’s looks loosely in one’s hand like they seem to…it’s a pretty impossible task. How many idols have I just rattled off? Probably five or six.
I just feel very alone; I couldn’t really concentrate in Sermon Preparation & Delivery today…I sort of phased in and out on what the sub would say (though he had excellent things to say, and the stuff I did hear seemed very insightful). If there’s one class I never check out of, it’s Prep and Del. But I just couldn’t focus.
I unfriended someone on Facebook this morning. The past few times I’ve gone to his page to see what he’s up to, he and his cute boyfriend are all over the place. The guy himself looks like a model. I get that life isn’t fair…but like Calvin (of Calvin and Hobbes fame), I ask, “but why can’t it ever be unfair in my favor?”
I suppose it has been, come to think of it. I have wonderful friends. I got a great compliment from someone at the seminary the other day. I was greatly encouraged by a friend on Sunday when I had a really difficult day. I got to see another friend on Sunday for lunch. I have a great friend as a roommate who prays for me.
And yet, even now, as I think about my blessings, this ache just won’t go away. I feel like verse 4 talks about above. Even more, I resonate with the last verse, which reads,
You have caused my beloved and my friend to shun me; darkness has become my only companion.
And then to make it worse, I went to chapel this morning, hoping to hear of the forgiveness of sins. Instead, the sermon was about taking a common-grace outline of grieving and artificially super-imposing it upon the text of Genesis 4, the story of Cain and Abel. The sermon didn’t need a crucified and risen savior. His advice? “Let yourself grieve.” Oh yeah. Then what? Didn’t get an answer.
I realize I just crossed the line from hurting individual to angry blogger. But allow me to back across that line, saying that I’m sure what he said was helpful. The trouble is, we’re not supposed to be preaching good advice…only good news. I needed good news. Truth is, I’ve been grieving now for almost two years over a variety of things in my life. I don’t need someone to tell me to grieve…I need hope in Christ and I need it preached, not simply referenced.
And I’m worn out from having to preach it to myself endlessly. It can’t be too much to ask to want it to be preached to me by someone else. It would be a refreshing change.
Instead, I feel as if darkness has become my only friend. I know that’s not true at all…but the stabbing gut-pain tells me something different. One friend asked me if I’d consider getting counseling at Covenant. I think I would…and I plan to at some point. But I know that sometimes counseling makes things worse before they make things better. I’m really concerned about being able to stay on top of things and if things get more emotionally volatile for me, I’m not sure I could stay on top of things. This is just me thinking out loud now…but I would totally do counseling.
There aren’t many expressions of lament like Psalm 88 in the Bible. But it’s a strange comfort to know that I don’t have to say I’m “gonna trust” or “I’m doing much better now” in a song for it to be acceptable worship.