There really is no end to the sorrow and despair of Psalm 88. From the first verse to the last there is only anguish and pain, and that might surprise us that the psalmist would spend an entire Psalm and say almost nothing positive to God. And yet this Psalm does offers hope because, as negative as it sounds, it begins with the words “O Lord, God of my salvation…” (Psalm 88:1).
Imagine a letter you might right to a customer service department to complain about a faulty product. It might begin something like, “Dear Sir or Madam, I wish to call to your attention the problems I have experienced with my new remote-controlled toaster and ask you to help me solve the issues.” There would then follow a list of all the ways that the taster is defective: for example how, when you use the remote feature, not only does it toast bread, but it also opens your garage door and turns on your television, or how the toaster itself keeps blowing the fuse in your kitchen. The letter would be one of complaint, but it would also be one of hope because it is addressed to the people who can do something about the problem, either by fixing the toaster, replacing it, or by giving you your money back.
For the psalmist, God is the one who can do something about the problems of life. God is the Lord, the God of salvation. If there were no hope, if God were unable or unwilling to meet the needs of God’s people, this Psalm would never have been written or sung. But God is able and is willing to come to our aid, and we are free to complain and to moan out loud––if that is how we feel––because God listens. Ours is a God who is big enough and gracious enough to take all of our anger, all of our disappointment, and all of our complaints and go right on loving us and caring for us. Ours is indeed a “God of salvation” to whom we may freely address our darkest concerns, trusting in God’s help.
Prayer: Gracious God, we lift up our deepest fears to you this day, knowing that you hear and respond, because you are our God and we are your people. In Jesus’ name. Amen.