Many people share this testimony. If you do, know that you are not alone and that God longs to give you words and his companionship in the midst of this experience. What follows is a sample of God concerns for you might look and sound like and is rooted largely in Psalm 88.

This is a dark Psalm, but only one among many dark Psalms. Again, God knew we would need many expressions for the suffering we face in a fallen world. To help u see this, read Psalm 88 – the “black hole” of dark Psalms. Read it slowly and let it have its full impact. The only hope in this Psalm is that is it addressed to God. For a moment, let the cynicism of the questions grip you; let the fruitless search for answers swallow you.

Psalm 88

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.
6You have put me in the depths of the pit,
in the regions dark and deep.
7Your wrath lies heavy upon me,
and you overwhelm me with all your waves.  Selah
8You have caused my companions to shun me;
you have made me a horror to them.
I am shut in so that I cannot escape;
9my eye grows dim through sorrow.
Every day I call upon you, O Lord;
I spread out my hands to you.
10Do you work wonders for the dead?
Do the departed rise up to praise you?  Selah
11Is your steadfast love declared in the grave,
or your faithfulness in Abaddon?
12Are your wonders known in the darkness,
or your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?
13But I, O Lord, cry to you;
in the morning my prayer comes before you.
14O Lord, why do you cast my soul away?
Why do you hide your face from me?
15Afflicted and close to death from my youth up,
I suffer your terrors; I am helpless.
16Your wrath has swept over me;
your dreadful assaults destroy me.
17They surround me like a flood all day long;
they close in on me together.
18You have caused my beloved and my friend to shun me;
my companions have become darkness.

An alternate translation of that final phrase could be “darkness has become my only companion (see ESV footnote).” Where is the hope in this? What are we supposed to take from such a grim passage? Paul Tripp answers this way:

Psalm 88 gives us hope in our grief precisely because it has no hope in it! It means that God understands the darkness we face. He is right there in it with us, “an ever-present help in trouble” (Ps. 46:1). The Lord of light is your friend in darkness. The Lord of life stands beside you in death. The Lord of hope is your companion in your despair. The Prince of Peace supports you when no peace can be found. The God of all comfort waits faithfully near you. The Source of all joy is close by when death has robbed you of joy.[1]

God invites us to come to him in all of our brokenness even before we attempt to “put Humpty Dumpty back together again.” Our Messiah is one who, “was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Is. 53:3). In these Psalms we get a picture of deep the incarnation went into our world of suffering and how uncomfortably close we must be willing to our friend’s suffering if we are going to counseling in a way that reflects the personal touch of the Gospel.


[1] Paul David Tripp, Grief: Finding Hope Again (Greensboro, N.C.: New Growth Press, 2004), 5.