After the death of his wife, Joy, C. S. Lewis processed his grief by journaling about his sadness and anger toward God and the world. He later felt his journal might help others who were grieving and published it under a pseudonym with the title A Grief Observed. Generations of readers have found consolation in Lewis’s raw and honest portrayal of his life with God even in the midst of deep loss.
The life of faith will often include periods of intense pain and loneliness. In today’s reading, the Psalmist expresses the deepest and darkest lament in the Psalter. He gives voice to the grief that even some of the most faithful of God’s servants endure. As commentator Marvin Tate expressed, “Long trails of suffering and loss traverse the landscape of human existence, even for the devoted people of God. There are cold, wintry nights of the soul, when bleakness fills every horizon and darkness seems nearly complete.”
The Psalmist is overwhelmed by troubles and seems fixated on death: “I am set apart with the dead, like the slain who lie in the grave, whom you remember no more, who are cut off from your care” (v. 5). Even worse, he believes that God is the one who has put him in this situation (vv. 6–7). He called upon the Lord day after day, but heard no response (vv. 9, 14). God seems far away and hidden. Not only is he cut off from God, but he is also estranged from other people. He ends his lament with the line, “darkness is my closest friend” (v. 18).
>> Even in extreme grief, the Psalmist clearly has not given up on God. He still prays, even if those prayers are full of questions and angst. It is appropriate for us to come to God honestly and ask probing questions during dark and difficult times. Even when we may not feel God’s presence, He is with us.
Lord of Peace, we know You can raise the dead, but in dark affliction we sometimes doubt that You can face our probing questions. Give us courage to talk to You about the things we fear to contemplate.