Praying Your Way Through the Depths of Despair


Praying Through the Bible #65

TEXT: Psalm 88

We are in a series of messages titled “Praying Through the Bible: A Series on Every Passage and Verse Regarding Prayer in the Bible”. The purpose of this series is to encourage and motivate you to pray to the God of the Bible. We highlighted each of these over 500 verses and passages in the Prayer Motivator Devotional Bible. So far, we have done 64 messages in this series.

This is message #65, titled “Praying Your Way Through the Depths of Despair”

During this time of year — the Fall and Winter seasons — many people experience feelings of depression and gloom. Doctors call it “seasonal affective disorder” or SAD. According to the Mayo Clinic, people begin showing “symptoms of this disorder in the fall and may continue into the winter months, sapping their energy and making them feel moody.” This seasonal depression is also attributed to the fact that the amount of sunlight during the day is declining. Because our side of the earth is now tilted away from the sun, the sun takes longer to rise and is quicker to set. Consequently, there is more darkness during this time of the year.

Some other reasons why people have these kinds of feelings during this time of the year are:

1. Many people are remembering family members whom they have lost either by death, or by divorce, or by separation. For some reason or another, their family is not together.

2. Many people are truly lonely. They simply don’t have anyone to share the holidays with. They don’t have anyone to give gifts to or anyone who will give gifts to them. They see other people rushing home to be with family members and friends, and they have no one to rush home to.

3. Many Christian people do not have their hearts right with God, and they are pretending to be joyful and happy. They are not truly joyful in their hearts because of sin in their lives.

All of us are familiar with feelings of depression, sadness, grief, and loss. Sometimes, we get to the point of utter despondency. The word “despondent” means “in low spirits from loss of hope or courage.” This is the type of feeling we get from the writer of Psalm 88.

This writer is identified as a man named He-man (HE-men). According to the Jewish Encyclopedia, Heman (HE-men) was the grandson of the prophet Samuel. He is identified as “the singer”. He was one of the three chief Levites appointed by David to oversee the musical service in the Tabernacle. He had fourteen sons, all of whom assisted in the choir under their father.

Psalm 88 is a lament — it begins and ends on a note of sadness. Derek Kidner writes, “There is no sadder prayer in the Psalter. Here, as with other laments, the reader’s part need not be that of spectator, whatever his current mood, but that of companion in prayer to the depressed or outcast people whose state of mind the psalm puts into words: words which are for use.”

We do not know the reason why Heman was in the depths of despair. Some have suggested that Heman contracted leprosy and had to live outside of the city — away from his family and his work as a servant of the Lord. However, this Psalm is categorized as a “Maschil” (MAS-KILL) — a psalm meant for instruction. Heman does not want us to just mourn with him, but to learn a lesson from his experience in the depths of despair. In this Psalm, there are three lessons that I believe God wants us to learn.

1. Sometimes, God allows us to descend to the depths of despair. As he begins his lament, Heman cries out: “O Lord God of my salvation, I have cried day and night before thee: Let my prayer come before thee: incline thine ear unto my cry.”

2. The loneliness of separation ought to draw us closer to God. Heman says in verse 4: “I am counted with them that go down into the pit: I am as a man that hath no strength.” When we are in the depths of despair, we will feel separated from all that we know and enjoy.

3. Understand that there is always light at the end of the tunnel. In verse 13 of this psalm, we see a glimmer of hope in the midst of his despair. Heman has not given up crying out to God even though he has yet to receive an answer, and in verse 13 he says, “But unto thee have I cried, O Lord; and in the morning shall my prayer prevent thee.”

No matter how we feel, no matter how dark our situation may be, no matter how lonely and separated from life, from others, or from God we think we are, we must find a rope to cling to and a light to fix our eyes upon.

Prayer is that rope. God is our light. Prayer is our lifeline to God. Like Heman, even though we may be in the depths of despair, we must never, never give up on prayer to God.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s