Thursday, February 07, 2019

When the Darkness Closes In

Today's Reading:
2 Samuel 19:11-20:13
1 Corinthians 7:25-40
Psalm 88:10-18
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Focus Verses: Psalm 88:16-18
16 Your wrath has swept over me; your terrors have destroyed me. 17 All day long they surround me like a flood; they have completely engulfed me. 18 You have taken from me friend and neighbor—darkness is my closest friend.


Psalm 88 begins with the words: "LORD, you are the God who saves me; day and night I cry out to you. May my prayer come before you; turn your ear to my cry." The Psalmist acknowledges faith in God's power to save, but also expresses frustration with the feelings that God may not be listening. The combined impact of feeling overwhelmed by life and feeling ignored by God is deadly to a person's emotional and spiritual wellness. So the Psalmist pours out his lament and complaint to God.

This bold and honest expression of doubt is surprisingly also an expression of faith. The psalmist's faith in God's goodness, justice, and compassion is what gives him the confidence to be honest and direct in his prayer. If God is who the psalmist believes him to be, then there is freedom to speak honestly about doubts, fears, and frustrations. He wants to be a friend of God, but right now the darkness seems closer to him and more real than God.

Response and Action:
Life is overwhelming and frustrating. I believe in God, but there are many times when the silence and darkness engulf me. Instead of retreating from God in these times, I will boldly and honestly pour out my heart to God. I will tell God when I am frustrated and confused. I will complain and cry out when I feel abandoned or unheard. It is only people of faith who talk to God about their doubts.

Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief. Do not be far away from me, O God. Give me a deep and unshakable sense of your presence. Sustain me in times of trouble. Strengthen my faith in times of doubt. Be my light and my closest friend when the darkness closes in. In your compassion and mercy, be patient with my complaints. By your grace, calm my heart. By your Spirit, guard my heart and mind with the peace of Christ. Be my heart's wellspring of deep and abiding joy, and dispel the shadows of despair. Abide with me and graciously make me able to abide in you. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: John 16:33b 
33b "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Waiting: Finding Hope When God Seems Silent
by Ben Patterson

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