Darkness is my only friend.
Did you know that is the last line of a psalm?
It is. “Darkness is my only friend” is the very last line of a real psalm (Psalm 88) in the Bible. Most psalms end on a more hopeful note, right? How can that be the end of the psalm? And why does it matter?
The thing is, I’ve been feeling pretty sad lately.
Buying a pet bunny helped a little. Chips and queso helped a little. But only a little.
I don’t think I’m the only one who has found it difficult to stay cheery during the quarantine days. And, just between us, being home and without plans started out as a restful, happy thing for me. But even people who like alone time were created to be in community, so as this THING has drug on, I’ve had to fight for joy harder than I have had to fight for anything in a long time.
The other day, I realized I was stuck. Stuck in my sadness. So, I approached God’s Word. I shared my feelings. I listened to some sermons. And I still felt stuck. As I was talking about my stuckness with my husband, I said, “Darkness is my only friend.”
He said, “Love, that was the fourth time you’ve said that sentence today.”
I told him, “It’s in the Bible. I’m meditating on Scripture.” : )
So, he suggested that maybe I start meditating on good news as well. He suggested I turn the page and see what the next psalm had to say. And as we talked, we realized I was stuck because I was stopping short of hope. I was thinking about spiritual things, but only half. I didn’t move past the sad half.
“Darkness is my only friend” is not the best meditation verse, it turns out.
Maybe you’ve been feeling bogged down by the weight of this medical-masked, scared, hurting world too, and maybe you’re forgetting how to hold on to hope. Here is a two-step recommendation.
Step One: Bring Your Sadness to God and Find Understanding
I listened to a Tim Keller sermon on Psalm 88, and in it, Keller pointed to the beauty of the fact that God intentionally put that psalm and Psalm 39 (a similarly sad one) in the Bible. He shared that even believing Christians can suffer internal darkness for long stretches of time. He reminded the congregation that, “…you can be trusting God for your salvation, and yet, it doesn’t get any better for a long time.”
I’m so glad God chose to put those psalms in the Bible. It gives us permission to feel what we’re feeling. It comforts me to know that sadness/suffering is universal, even amongst believers.
I was happy to find the psalm and the sermon. But I kept feeling stuck in the sad. My husband told me I needed to move on to a new psalm.
“Turn the page,” he said.
I believe that that every word in the Bible is true, so when Jesus said in John 10 that we have an enemy who is coming at us to “steal, kill, and destroy,” I believe it. Satan wants us to only listen to half a sentence or half a verse or half a chapter. He wants to hide the hope. He wants us to read one of two solely sad psalms and then close our Bibles.
Where you stop reading matters, guys. Could you imagine reading, praying through, meditating on the crucifixion of Jesus and stopping at Good Friday? Like, just really zeroing in on the death of God. And stopping there. And staying there. Forever.
There is no hope until the tomb opens. The resurrection matters. Hope is real. Turning the page to the empty tomb changes the story.
Step Two: Turn the Page.
I sat down on the couch after Brandon went to bed and opened up to Psalm 89. I turned the page and I smiled.
I will sing about the LORD’s faithful love forever;
I will proclaim your faithfulness to all generations
with my mouth.
2 For I will declare,
“Faithful love is built up forever;
you establish your faithfulness in the heavens.”
3 The LORD said,
“I have made a covenant with my chosen one;
I have sworn an oath to David my servant:
4 ‘I will establish your offspring forever
and build up your throne for all generations.’” Selah
5 LORD, the heavens praise your wonders—
your faithfulness also—
in the assembly of the holy ones.
6 For who in the skies can compare with the LORD?
Who among the heavenly beings[a] is like the LORD?
7 God is greatly feared in the council of the holy ones,
more awe-inspiring than[b] all who surround him.
8 LORD God of Armies,
who is strong like you, LORD?
Your faithfulness surrounds you.
9 You rule the raging sea;
when its waves surge, you still them.
And then it goes on all the way to verse 52, ending on this note: “Blessed be the LORD forever. Amen and Amen.”
There are examples of hopeless places when you just need to turn the page all over the Bible.
Take the Book of Judges. If you look at that book, flip all the way to the end, and read the last verse in chapter 21, verse 25, it says, “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did whatever seemed right to him.”
What a terrible ending to a book full of aimless, repeatedly disobedient people—“God’s people.” Forgetful, rebellious people trying to sort things out. The Book of Judges ends with rebellion and no king. But, if you keep turning the page, you find 1 Kings. And if you keep turning the page, guess who shows up? The King of kings.
My husband was right. Every time you read the Bible and you can’t find the hope, keep reading. It’s there.
These days we’re living in are hard. We’re feeling the pains of loss and sickness and uncertainty. And we’re doing a lot of it alone. It’s harder to be held together by the body, when all the members of the body are more scattered and secluded. But God gets it. He invites us to bring our bad attitudes and pain to Him in conversation. He invites us to spend time with Him in His Word—to take comfort in the universality and legitimacy of suffering. But He also invites us to look for Jesus—the star of the book, the light of the world—the Savior who came to undo our sadness.
Take comfort in the psalms, friends. Take comfort in the cross. Take comfort in a Savior who sympathizes with your suffering and promises you’ll never suffer in the darkness alone. Even when you feel like “darkness is your only friend,” that’s just a feeling. Turn the page on despair and get to the Hope.