O Lord, God of my salvation, when, at night, I cry out in your presence, let my prayer come before you; incline your ear to my cry. -Psalm 88: 1-2
There are times in life when all one can do is to cry out. Those times when the broken reality of our world comes crashing in. When life seems too thin, too close to breaking. Praise is a distant memory of some lost time.
In times like these, we lament. And lament can be healthy, honest, cathartic. It is part of faith and our Lenten tradition. Even Jesus cried out from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Knowing that the Bible leaves room for despair is comforting. Faith is not dependent on happy feelings, nor positive events. Faith is not dependent on praise. That’s part of the comfort of Psalm 88, once referred to as “the darkest, saddest of all the Psalms.” It is the only Psalm of lament that does not end in praise, concluding “darkness is my closest friend” (NIV).
The good news in the midst of lament is that the cross is not the end. God has not abandoned us. Nothing “in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord,” writes Paul. “I am with you always, to the end of the age,” is Jesus’ Easter promise.
When disasters like Typhoon Haiyan and Hurricane Matthew strike, throwing communities into despair, we live out God’s lasting promise on behalf of victims. Though darkness may be their closest friend, God’s love empowers us to love. We stand with them, holding them in faith. We are strong, until they can find their strength. We work, we pray, we praise, so that the darkness does not have the final word. We love, because God first loved us. Thanks be to God!