Read Psalm 88:13-18
13 O Lord, I cry out to you.
I will keep on pleading day by day.
14 O Lord, why do you reject me?
Why do you turn your face from me?
15 I have been sick and close to death since my youth.
I stand helpless and desperate before your terrors.
16 Your fierce anger has overwhelmed me.
Your terrors have paralyzed me.
17 They swirl around me like floodwaters all day long.
They have engulfed me completely.
18 You have taken away my companions and loved ones.
Darkness is my closest friend. (NLT)
What would you say to a person who expressed these feelings to you? Some of us are fixers. We want to quickly put a bandaid on the wound. We ourselves can’t tolerate uncertainty or hardship so we try to abolish it in the other person’s life so we can feel better about faith and life.
Others are explainers. They probe and investigate. There must be a cause, must be an explanation. Everything has a reason. Life must become manageable, explicable. So outcries such as this must be cleared up. But what if there is no explanation?
The best sort of response is to simply be in the darkness with that person. Certainly we might want to explore things more; certainly we may offer some helpful perspectives. But in the end, our very presence and non-judgemental compassion are what are primarily needed.
This Psalm reminds us that those who follow God will sometimes find themselves in dark places. We can’t avoid them. And so we who follow God must not only be prepared for them but prepared to be companions to those in such places. We may not be able to solve or to fix or to explain. But being helpless in these ways does not mean we cannot offer a helping hand.