Regardless, I’ve felt like I’ve been drowning in this darkness and can’t see light. Yesterday my daily Bible reading was in Psalm 22. In case you happen to be where I am, perhaps some of these observations will encourage you. In the darkest of times I’ve found that God’s word is the only light that can penetrate.
Here is David’s progression we see in this chapter. Read along.
“God has left me. I am alone.” Of course we know God never leaves us, but we feel that way sometimes. David sure did. It helps to admit even the hardest parts of how we feel, even if in our head we know they’re not true.
“God is holy.” The shift from David’s despair to an acknowledgement of God’s holiness is abrupt. It’s almost as if he’s willing himself to take the focus off of his pain and onto his God. At this point he doesn’t point to God’s comfort. He simply points to what he knows, not necessarily what he feels. God is holy. Set apart. Pure. Righteous.
“I know others have trusted in him.” David can’t even bring himself to think of God’s attributes in the context of his own life. Instead he wills himself to remember what God has done for others. Sometimes in our deepest darkness we can’t mentally grasp what God has done even for us. I remember thinking, “I should be thinking about how grateful I am for all God has done, but I can’t seem to do it.” In this case, David at least brings to mind what God has done for others.
“I’m nothing.” In the darkness, self-deprecation is a common accompaniment. When everything around you seems dark, you do, too. You can’t see any good in yourself. I even found myself looking at my better days as if I was looking at another person. I couldn’t grasp who “she” even was. Still, it’s a positive step to admit these feelings.
“God has been everything for me.” David wills himself to remember that God has been his God even when he was in his mother’s womb – before he can even recall. It is here that we see some breakthrough, where he can begin to see who God is to him personally, not just to others as he began.
“I’m overcome.” Here David lists all the vices that surround him. In these verses – which were prophesies to Jesus’ suffering – he lists his enemies. Our enemies may be physical but they may be emotional. Or they may be situations that seem to be drowning us. I think in my case, I had been burying my “enemies” in my mind instead of dealing with them. They began festering and overcoming me without me really understanding them. Again, recognizing them is a step in dealing with them.
“God, don’t leave me. Help me.” Finally. It took 19 verses but he finally mustered the strength to ask God for help. In our darkest times have you noticed that prayer seems impossible? But by working through what he did in verses 1-18 he is finally able to come to God and ask for deliverance.
“Praise.” David’s focus shift from his own darkness to the goodness of God is so clear in verses 22-31 that it almost seems like you’re reading a different psalm. David called to God and God answered. He lifted the darkness and David found himself immersed in comfort, joy, and praise.
It would be nice if God would just say the word and the dark cloud would disappear. But as David’s example shows us, God desires to show himself to us through some tough heart work. It’s the process of that heart work that brought out the intimacy with God that led to healing.
My dark cloud is still hanging around, but I’m going to take David’s example today. May God show himself anew to me. And hopefully if you’re where I am – or ever find yourself there – you can reflect on Psalm 22 as well.