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Tho the darkness hide thee

by Billy Baltz
Reflections on the Word

Wasn’t Tuesday a beautiful day? It wasn’t? Millions may say “Yes!” And millions will say “No!”

In my early morning quiet time, after a troubled night of sleeping, I was in the grip and throws of the election results. God’s Spirit lead me to Psalm 88 (a Song of Lament) particularly verse 18b that says, “the darkness is my closest friend.” Another translation states: “all that I know is the dark.”

A “Psalm of Lament” is a song and prayer that includes letting out feelings often of pain, hopelessness, and despair. The Psalms has many. They are found to be the living experience of many people. So, what are we to make of life when we enter Psalm 88 territory? Psalm 88 insists that we face those times when joy seems a far distant memory, and the present moment is experienced only as an oppressive weight. It forces us to ask how it can be that some decidedly decent people land up in this place — often as a result of circumstances completely outside of their control? Could be that the decidedly decent person is you and me?

What does it mean to experience darkness as your closest friend? First, let’s feel the image. We can’t ignore its sentiments. Perhaps it is better than living in light which constantly exposes the depth of the problems being faced. Disappearing into nothingness might seem the preferred option. Or it could be that darkness simply means hopelessness — when struggling with something seems insurmountable? Is this an image to be explained or just sensed? If darkness is your closest friend, life can be genuinely at a desperate point.

Psalm 88 is hauntingly sad. While it starts hopefully (“You are the God who saves me” – verse 1), it finishes in a very different place, with the sobering conclusion that “darkness is my closest friend”. While many psalms speak of struggle and difficulty, they usually find some kind of resolution before the end. This one does not.

An old, familiar hymn meets us in our darkness.“Holy, Holy, Holy” (is my God – set apart, unique — 3 times is a number of rightness in Scripture). “Tho the darkness hides Thee.” When it seems like we are seemingly in a dark season. “Tho the eye of sinful man Thy glory may not see” — when those not close to God don’t get it — God’s got this. “Perfect in power, in love, and purity.” God’s ways our not our ways — neither are His thoughts — but they are perfect. We can truly believe everything is good in some way if we are open and willing to look for it.

You know who wins today and every day? We should already know. “The “name that is above all names” wins. (Phil 2:9). His name is victory. We can now pray, “Thy kingdom come, and thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matt. 6:10)

Enjoy this wonderful rendition of my “oldie but goodie.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j5MEoJZo38M