Its 'ok' NOT to be 'ok'

Psalm 88 is a somber contemplation of a man named Heman the Ezrahite. This Psalm was put to the music of a reed pipe and sung by the sons of Korah, the official musicians for the Temple in Jerusalem, in times of sadness.

This Psalm is as real as it gets.

It doesn't conclude with a happy ending. It is simply a cry out to God for mercy and for deliverance from life's ongoing struggles. It is quite possible that Heman suffered from leprosy since he notes, "You have put away my acquaintances far from me; You have made me an abomination to them; I am shut up and I cannot get out....Loved one and friend You have put far from me, And my acquaintances into darkness" (v. 8, 18).

Whatever was troubling Heman, it was continuous and he apparently prayed to God about it often with no relief: "LORD, I have called daily upon You; I have stretched out my hands to You. Will You work wonders for the dead? Shall the dead arise and praise You?....But to You I have cried out, O LORD, And in the morning my prayer comes before You. LORD, why do You cast off my soul? Why do You hide Your face from me?....I have been afflicted and ready to die from my youth..." (v. 9-10, 13-15)

Not only is Heman suffering continually, he also makes it clear that he feels God is responsible for his ongoing troubles without relief: "You have laid me in the lowest pit, In darkness, in the depths. Your wrath lies heavy upon me, And You have afflicted me with all Your waves. You have put away my acquaintances....You have made me an abomination....LORD, why do you cast off my soul?.....I suffer Your terrors; I am distraught. Your fierce wrath has gone over me; Your terrors have cut me off...." (v. 6-8, 14-16)

This Psalm may seem bleak and hopeless; you may even wonder why God would want this, of all things, in His Word? First of all, this Psalm shows us that God understands, in great detail, our sufferings in this fallen world. Second, this Psalm teaches us that it is 'ok' to NOT be 'ok.'
Heman shoots straight with God. His life, for the most part, has been awful. It has mirrored Job's in many respects. Heman prays for relief, yet he continues to receive no answers. And that is how the Psalm ends - with no answer or removal of the trial.

What is the takeaway here? There are a few things....
1. God does hear us and He invites our prayers (Heman continues to pray; he maintains faith in this truth. And, God has this Psalm recorded for us in Scripture - it isn't happening without His knowledge.)
2. It is biblical to cry out to God and to even ask Him 'Why?' and 'How long?' (It sometimes feels wrong to pray prayers like Psalm 88, but rest assured, prayers of lament and sadness are Biblical.)
3. Keeping a biblical perspective is key in these times of distress (Heman asks God, "How can Your love, faithfulness, and power be proclaimed by someone who is dead?" (v. 11-12) Essentially, Heman is pleading for God's healing hand so that he may continue to serve Him with his life. What a perspective in times of trial!)

In those Psalm 88 times in your life, remember these lessons learned from Heman.


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