Blogging Through the Psalms: What is so bad about feeling sad?

Psalm 88

Heman was a wise man, a singer in David’s service. This Psalm expresses his grief and pain in the form of a prayer of anguish to the Lord. It is filled with unrelenting and unrelieved sorrow. As such, it is one of the saddest of all the Psalms. Heman has suffered many things and gone through several severe trials throughout his life without relief. He is in the midst of darkness, abandoned by all his friends, so helpless and alone that he feels that even the Lord has forsaken him. Yet he still has faith for he is able to cry out to the Lord with the hope of a response that will alleviate his suffering. He asks a series of questions to which a negative answer is expected with the idea that if he were dead, he would be unable to praise the Lord as he does now in the company of worshippers at the Temple.

Most Psalms end with a positive note even in the midst expressions of doubt, tribulation and pain. Not this one. Heman ends his Psalm with a picture of unremitting darkness. For one who is supposed to be a worship leader, who sings God’s praises, he certainly seems to have the wrong attitude and maybe the wrong job.

What this Psalm tells us is that because of sin we can expect suffering and difficulties to continue with little or no relief. It also tells us that the upbeat attitude that we think we are supposed to have or have been led to believe is to mark all Christians is an untruth. Those who do feel down and doubtful should find acceptance in the body of Christ and should be assisted by their fellow believers to keep focused on the Lord. And just because God withholds healing and help does not mean He is displeased with us. Suffering is part of the Lord’s eternal plan whereby He will effect salvation for those who are humble enough to admit their need for Him and who are thoroughly uncomfortable in this world which, after all, is not our home.

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