Psalm 88: Lessons on What Jesus Offers You During Your Darkest Trials When You Feel Depressed, Sad, or Alone

Introduction: Psalm 88 is often called the saddest of all the 150 psalms: “This psalm is a lamentation, one of the most melancholy of all the psalms; and it does not conclude, as usually the melancholy psalms do, with the least intimation of comfort or joy, but, from first to last, it is mourning and woe.” (Matthew Henry on Ps. 88).1 Here, a psalmist named Herman poured out his heart to God when his life was coming to an end, and he felt hopeless. He wrote his lament without the promises of the New Testament. From the whole counsel of the Bible, Jesus reveals seven things that He offers during your darkest hour. These include His: (1) comfort, (2) hope, (3) forgiveness, (4) fellowship, (5) salvation, (6) answered prayers, and (7) eternal restoration.

First, the psalmist cried out repeatedly to God for relief from his distress. When you are undergoing a dark trial, Jesus offers you His comfort. Second, the psalmist lamented that his life was coming to an end, and he believed that only darkness awaited him. When you feel you have reached your darkest hour, Jesus wants you to find hope in His promises. Third, the psalmist cried out for God’s mercy. He knew he was a sinner. Jesus also provided the means to atone for your sins through His death on the cross. Fourth, the psalmist cried out that he was alone and rejected. Jesus was also rejected. When you are rejected, He understands your pain. He offers you His fellowship. Fifth, the psalmist also asked what hope he had after he died. Jesus answered his lament. Through His atoning death, He provided a means for your salvation. Sixth, the psalmist cried out for God to hear his prayers. Jesus also offers you the hope that He will hear and respond to your prayers according to His timing and His will. Finally, the psalmist cried out as he felt hopeless with his death fast approaching. Jesus again offers you hope. He offers you the promise of your eternal restoration where you will live with Him in peace.

1. Comfort: During Your Darkest Trials, Turn to Jesus for Comfort. Ps. 88:1-2.

  • Have faith that Jesus offers you comfort when you turn to Him. The psalmist Herman lamented that his suffering was ongoing. As a man of faith, he cried out “day and night” for God to hear his prayers and give him comfort: “A Song. A Psalm of the sons of Korah. For the music director; according to Mahalath Leannoth. A Maskil of Heman the Ezrahite. Lord, the God of my salvation, I have cried out by day and in the night before You. Let my prayer come before You; incline Your ear to my cry!” (Ps. 88:1-2). Heman failed to end his psalm with praise, like David typically did. Thus, it might be tempting to criticize him. But God celebrates his sad lament for the same reason Job’s sad laments are included in the Bible. Even if you don’t feel joyful, God wants you to pour out your heart to Him. Even when you feel sad, He wants a relationship with you.

  • God is near to the brokenhearted and heals their wounds. What can believers say to someone who is broken where no easy answer exists? In most cases, trying to “solve” their problems is the wrong answer. That was the mistake that Job’s friends made. But you can find His comfort and encouragement. God promises that He is near when a person is broken and cries out to Him for comfort: “The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Ps. 34:18). “For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as is the LORD our God whenever we call on Him?” (Dt. 4:7). “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, God, You will not despise.” (Ps. 51:17). Most importantly, in His perfect timing, He heals the broken person who turns to Him: “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” (Ps. 147:3). Do you encourage the brokenhearted with God’s promises?

Psalm 88 Chant - YouTube

Cry out to Jesus when you feel despair or overwhelmed in sadness2

  • Jesus can relate to any pain you experience because He suffered for you. Jesus suffered for mankind and was tempted without sinning: “For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.” (Heb. 2:18). Through His suffering, Jesus can sympathize with your suffering: “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things just as we are, yet without sin.” (Heb. 4:15). There is no pain or burden that Jesus cannot relate to. Show your faith by giving your burdens to Him.

  • Cry out to God when you are in distress. To some, it might have looked like a sign of weakness for the psalmist to cry out to God. But some of the greatest persons of faith in the Bible cried out to God. As an example for believers, David’s psalms encourage believers to give their deepest burdens to God: “My God, I cry out by day, but You do not answer; and by night, but I have no rest.” (Ps. 22:2). “A Psalm of David. Save me, O God, for the waters have threatened my life . . . Deliver me from the mire and do not let me sink; may I be delivered from my foes and from the deep waters. May the flood of water not overflow me nor the deep swallow me up, nor the pit shut its mouth on me. Answer me, O LORD, for Your lovingkindness is good; according to the greatness of Your compassion, turn to me,” (Ps. 69:1, 14-16). “A Prayer of David. Incline Your ear, LORD, and answer me; for I am afflicted and needy.” (Ps. 86:1). “The cords of death encompassed me and the terrors of Sheol came upon me; I found distress and sorrow. Then I called upon the name of the LORD: ‘O LORD, I beseech You, save my life!”’ (Ps. 116:3-4). “Stretch forth Your hand from on high; rescue me and deliver me out of great waters, out of the hand of aliens.” (Ps. 144:7). Elijah also cried out to God (1 Kgs. 17:20). Like David, this showed that the psalmist was completely dependent upon God. When you are feeling sadness, it is not a sign of a lack of faith to cry out to God. Instead, it is a sign of faith to do so. He wants you to cry out to Him so that He can comfort you.

  • Pour out your heart to God during your trials. Crying out to God and pouring out your heart are not the same thing. Crying out involved seeking God’s help. Pouring out your heart involves confessing your burdens. God knows your burdens. But He wants you to lay out before Him your burdens, your questions, and your struggles of faith. As our example, David also poured out his heart when he could not understand the reasons for his trials: “A Psalm of David. How long, LORD? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me?” (Ps. 13:1). “Why do You hide Your face and forget our affliction and oppression?” (Ps. 44:24). “LORD, why do You reject my soul? Why do You hide Your face from me?” (Ps. 88:14). Job also complained that God would not answer his prayers: “I cry out to You for help, but You do not answer me; I stand up, and You turn Your attention against me.” (Job 30:20). Habakkuk also cried out to God in his prayers (Habakkuk 1:2). Even Jesus cried out on the cross by quoting the psalms: “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eli, Eli, Lemma Sabatini? that is, ‘My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?”’ (Matt. 27:46; Ps. 22:1). Believers should be reverent to God by showing up to Church, praying, worshiping, and submitting to Him. But God also welcomes your private cries of pain and anguish to Him in your prayer life. He knows your needs before you state them, and there is no pain that you need to hide. If you are in need, pour your heart to God.

  • God promises that you will find Him when you seek Him with all your heart. According to the famous preacher British Charles Spurgeon, the psalmist gives us great example for what it means to give your burdens to God: “In this Psalm, Heman makes a map of his life’s history, he puts down all the dark places through which he has traveled. He mentions his sins, his sorrows, his hopes (if he had any), his fears, his woes, and so on. Now, that is real prayer, laying your case before the Lord.” (Charles Spurgeon on Ps. 88).3 If you want to find God’s comforting presence, it requires that you seek Him with all your heart: “11 For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for prosperity and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 And you will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” (Jer. 29:11-13). In other words, you need to have the faith to both cry out to God and to pour out your heart to Him.

  • Encourage others the way God encourages you. God also wants you to be a source of encouragement to others. “But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘Today,’ so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” (Heb. 3:13). “But I urge you, brethren, bear with this word of exhortation, for I have written to you briefly.” (Heb. 13:22). God is always there to comfort you when you turn to Him. Will you be available so that He can use the love inside you to comfort others?

  • Show the same compassion and comfort that God offers you to others. God offers you His comfort when you are feeling pain or sadness: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (2 Cor. 1:3-4; 7:6). God in turn asks you to be kind and compassionate toward others: “So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience;” (Col. 3:12; Eph. 4:32). When someone around you is hurting, offer them the same compassion and comfort that God offers you.

2. Hope: During Your Darkest Hour, Find Hope in Jesus’ Promises. Ps. 88:3-6.

  • When you are in poor health or your life feels hopeless, find hope in God’s promises. The psalmist believed that his life was quickly coming to an end. This was because of either poor health or an enemy threat against him. But he sadly held God responsible: “For my soul has had enough troubles, and my life has approached Sheol. I am counted among those who go down to the pit; I have become like a man without strength, Abandoned among the dead, like the slain who lie in the grave, whom You no longer remember, and they are cut off from Your hand. You have put me in the lowest pit, in dark places, in the depths.” (Ps. 88:3-6). The psalmist cried out because he lacked the assurance that Jesus provides. In Jesus, you have an eternal hope, even when you die.

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In your darkest hour, Jesus is there for you4

  • Turn to God in your hour of need. Like the psalmist, Job also felt as though he was about to die because of his ongoing trial: “My spirit is broken, my days are extinguished, the grave is ready for me.” (Job 17:1). David also cried out when he felt that death was near: “The ropes of death encompassed me, and the torrents of destruction terrified me. The ropes of Sheol surrounded me; The snares of death confronted me.” (Ps. 18:4-5). Other psalms record similar laments: “My heart is in anguish within me, and the terrors of death have fallen upon me.” (Ps. 55:4). “The snares of death encompassed me and the terrors of Sheol came upon me; I found distress and sorrow.” (Ps. 116:3). When you feel your life is coming to an end, God also wants you to turn to Him to find eternal hope.

  • God will never abandon you. The psalmist felt “abandoned” and that God would “no longer remember” him (Ps. 88:5). Other psalms contain similar laments: “I am forgotten like a dead person, out of mind; I am like a broken vessel.” (Ps. 31:12). The psalmist also felt that God had placed him in his condition: “You have put me in the lowest pit, . . .” (Ps. 88:6). Other Bible authors expressed similar laments: “He has made me live in dark places, like those who have long been dead.” (Lam 3:6). “For the enemy has persecuted my soul; He has crushed my life to the ground; He has made me dwell in dark places, like those who have long been dead.” (Ps. 143:3). If you ever feel overwhelmed, you can trust that God will never leave you or forsake you: “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or in dread of them, for the LORD your God is the One who is going with you. He will not desert you or abandon you.” (Dt. 31:6; Heb. 13:5).

  • To find your life, you must lose it. Sometimes, God allows your worldly life to crumble so that you can find a life in Him: “Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” (Matt. 10:39; 16:25). “‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.’” (Lk. 9:23; Mk. 8:34). Paul later realized that his worldly accomplishments were nothing compared to his relationship with Jesus: “But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.” (Phil. 3:7; Heb. 13:13). If you lost your wealth and health, would you still trust God? Or is your faith limited to when He blesses you?

  • Allow God to humble you so that He can also exalt you without pride. God may have humbled the psalmist before He could exalt him. He might have done this so that he would serve without pride. He also wants you to allow Him to humble you through your suffering so that He can exalt you in heaven without any pride. “Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.” (Matt. 23:12; Lk. 14:11; 18:14). “He has brought down rulers from their thrones, and has exalted those who were humble.” (Lk. 1:52). “Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.” (Ja. 4:10). “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time,” (1 Pet. 5:6). “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” (Matt. 5:5 KJV). Your suffering is one way for God to humble you. Are you staying humble so that He can later exalt you without pride?

  • Let Jesus be your hope in your darkest hour. When you feel despair, you can turn to Jesus. He is the anchor of hope during any trial: “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and reliable and one which enters within the veil,” (Heb. 6:19). “And now, Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in You.” (Ps. 39:7). “For You are my hope; Lord GOD, You are my confidence from my youth.” (Ps. 71:5). “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, and whose trust is the LORD.” (Jer. 17:7). If your health is failing or if you are under attack, put your hope in Jesus and His eternal promises.

3. Forgiveness: In Your Darkest Hour, Find Hope in Jesus’ Mercy. Ps. 88:7.

  • Turn to Jesus to find mercy and forgiveness. Unaware of the reasons for his trials, the psalmist sadly felt that his suffering was the result of God’s wrath because of his sins: “Your wrath has rested upon me, and You have afflicted me with all Your waves. Selah” (Ps. 88:7). The psalmist lacked the promises that Jesus offers in the New Testament.

Jesus Died For Our Sins - All You Need Infos

Jesus offers you mercy and forgiveness through His sacrifice on the cross5

  • Jesus died on the cross to offer you His mercy and forgiveness. Believers are not exempted from the consequences of sin. Instead, Jesus took the penalty of death that each person would normally deserve because of their sins: “But He was pierced for our offenses, He was crushed for our wrongdoings; the punishment for our well-being was laid upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed.” (Is. 53:5). “But He was pierced for our offenses, He was crushed for our wrongdoings; the punishment for our well-being was laid upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed.” (Ro. 4:25). “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Ro. 5:8). “and He Himself brought our sins in His body up on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live for righteousness; by His wounds you were healed.” (1 Pet. 2:24). If you believe that you can get to heaven through your good works, then Jesus died needless on the cross (Gal. 2:21). Thus, Jesus deserves your gratitude.

  • Praise Jesus for His mercy and forgiveness. To keep the Jews grateful during times of distress, Moses led the Jews in celebrating God’s mercy and forgiveness for their sins: “Then the LORD passed by in front of him and proclaimed, ‘The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth;”’ (Ex. 34:6; 33:19; Nu. 19:18). “For the LORD your God is a compassionate God; He will not fail you nor destroy you nor forget the covenant with your fathers which He swore to them.” (Dt. 4:31). Nehemiah also led the Jews in praise for God’s mercy and grace: “You are a God of forgiveness, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in mercy; and You did not abandon them.” (Neh. 9:17). Everyone needs Jesus’ mercy and grace. Are you praising Jesus for His mercy and grace?

  • Give thanks that God’s faithfulness is not dependent on your faithfulness. God did not give up on Job after he cursed God’s creation. He also remained faithful to His promise to never forsake the Jews: “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.” (Dt. 31:6; 4:31; Heb. 13:5). Even when the Jews rebelled against Him, He remained faithful (Neh. 9:18-19). You can also give thanks that His faithfulness is not conditioned upon our faithfulness: “If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.” (2 Tim. 2:13). Have you given thanks that God will not use your sins or improper grief-filled statements to revoke His promises to you?

4. Fellowship: In Your Darkest Hour, Turn to Jesus for Fellowship. Ps. 88:8-9.

  • Turn to God when you feel rejected and despised. The psalmist lamented that his acquaintances had rejected him. He was alone and miserable. Sadly, he blamed God: “You have removed my acquaintances far from me; You have made me an object of loathing to them; I am shut up and cannot go out. My eye grows dim from misery; I have called upon You every day, Lord; I have spread out my hands to You.” (Ps. 88:8-9). When others mock and reject you, you can always turn to Jesus for fellowship.

  • Cry out to Jesus when you feel ridiculed. Many God-fearing people have experienced feelings of isolation and rejection. For example, David frequently cried out when his friends and colleagues scorned him and rejected him: “All who see me deride me; they sneer, they shake their heads,” (Ps. 22:7). “I also have become a disgrace to them; when they see me, they shake their head.” (Ps. 109:25). “Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.” (Ps. 41:9).

  • Job also lost the respect of everyone around him. As another example, Job was also alone and despised. Satan first turned his wife against him (Job 2:9; 19:17a). Satan then turned all of Job’s friends against him: “I am a joke to my friends, . . .” (Job 12:4a). “My friends are my scoffers; . . .” (Job 16:20a; 19:9,13-14, 19). “Mockers are certainly with me, and my eye gazes on their provocation.” (Job 17:2). They loathe me and stand aloof from me, and they do not refrain from spitting in my face.” (Job 30:10). Even children mocked him: “Even young children despise me; I stand up and they speak against me.” (Job 19:18). In a patriarchal society, it was a great dishonor for children to reject a patriarch like Job. But Job did not realize that God would never abandon him (Dt. 31:6). When you feel that others have rejected you, cry out to Jesus.

  • Jesus was also humiliated so that you could find His fellowship. Although He was without sin, Jesus bore our shame. For example, Jesus was mocked before He healed a girl that everyone concluded was dead (Matt. 9:24; Mk. 5:40). The Roman soldiers also mocked Jesus when they beat Him (Matt. 27:29), and the chief priests mocked Him as well (Matt. 27:41). “Those passing by were hurling abuse at Him, shaking their heads and saying, ‘Ha! You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days,”’ (Mk. 15:29). “Then they spat in His face and beat Him with their fists; and others slapped Him,” (Matt. 26:67). “They spat on Him, and took the reed and began to beat Him on the head.” (Matt. 27:30). “And those passing by were speaking abusively to Him, shaking their heads,” (Matt. 27:39). Jesus suffered without deserving it so that you might be saved. He also suffered so that you would know that He understands your pain.

  • When others reject you, Jesus offers you His fellowship. When you feel alone, rejected, or isolated, your faith brings you the blessing of Jesus’ fellowship: “God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” (1 Cor. 1:9). Merely accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior is not enough to be in fellowship with Him. You must accept Jesus’ invitation for a deeper relationship: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.” (Rev. 3:20). If you feel lonely, are you accepting Jesus’ invitation for a deeper relationship and true fellowship with Him?

  • When others reject you, Jesus offers you His love. When the world turns against you, know that Jesus loves you so much that He suffered and died on the cross for you: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16; 2 Cor. 1:3-4). “But God, who comforts the discouraged, comforted us by the arrival of Titus;” (2 Cor. 7:6). “I, I Myself, am He who comforts you. Who are you that you are afraid of mortal man, and of a son of man who is made like grass,” (Is. 51:12). When you feel unloved, turn to Jesus.

5. Salvation: In Your Darkest Hour, Find Hope in Jesus’ Salvation. Ps. 88:10-12

  • Death has no power over you because of Jesus’ atoning death. The psalmist asked if God could raise the dead and rescue them from eternal darkness: “10 Will You perform wonders for the dead? Or will the departed spirits rise and praise You? Selah 11 Will Your graciousness be declared in the grave, Your faithfulness in Abaddon? 12 Will Your wonders be made known in the darkness? And Your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?” (Ps. 88:10-12). “Abaddon” in Hebrew is defined as a place of destruction or ruin.6 “They have as king over them, the angel of the abyss; his name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in the Greek he has the name Apollyon.” (Rev. 9:11).

  • God offers you His comfort when a person is ill or near death. The psalmist felt alone in the twilight of his life. Yet, even in the valley of the shadow of death, God is there to give you comfort and peace: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” (Ps. 23:4). When you are in pain, do you turn to God or to worldly things for comfort?

  • David professed his faith that God would make his eternal salvation possible. David gave thanks for his salvation: “You have saved my soul from the depths of Sheol.” (Ps. 86:13). David repeatedly proclaimed his faith that God would save his soul from eternal death: “For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol; You will not allow Your Holy One to undergo decay. You will make known to me the way of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever.” (Ps. 16:10-11). “To rescue their soul from death and to keep them alive in famine. Our soul waits for the LORD; He is our help and our shield.” (Ps. 33:19-20). “But God will redeem my soul from the power of Sheol, for He will receive me. Selah” (Ps. 49:15). “For You have saved my soul from death, indeed my feet from stumbling, so that I may walk before God in the light of the living.” (Ps. 56:13). “God is to us a God of salvation; and to GOD the Lord belong ways of escape from death.” (Ps. 68:20).

  • Salvation is possible through Jesus’ atoning death on the cross. Salvation was a mystery in Old Testament times. “For there is no mention of You in death; in Sheol, who will praise You?” (Ps. 6:5). “For Sheol cannot thank You, death cannot praise You; those who go down to the pit cannot hope for Your faithfulness.” (Is. 38:18). “The singer dreaded death, fearing that it would mean being cut off not only from earthly relationships, but also from his relationship with God. As with Psalm 6 and other passages, it is wrong to take these agonized words as evidence that there is no life beyond death. The Old Testament has a shadowy understanding of the world beyond. Sometimes it shows a clear confidence (Job 19:25), and sometimes it has the uncertainty shown here. . .The book of Psalms and the Old Testament in general do not present a comprehensive theology of the world beyond. The book of Psalms expresses the agony, fear, and uncertainty of death’s doorstep. The singers in the psalms often know they can remember God and give Him thanks now, but don’t have the same certainty about the world beyond.” (David Guzik on Ps. 88) (italics original).7 But you can rely upon Jesus’ eternal promises of salvation: “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;” (Ro. 10:9).

  • Give thanks for your salvation. The Psalms remind believers to give thanks for all God’s blessings: “A Psalm of David. I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart; I will tell of all Your wonders.” (Ps. 9:1). “That I may proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving and declare all Your wonders.” (Ps. 26:7). “God, You have taught me from my youth, and I still declare Your wondrous deeds.” (Ps. 71:17). “A Psalm of Asaph, a Song. We give thanks to You, God, we give thanks, for Your name is near; people declare Your wondrous works.” (Ps. 75:1). “12 I will give thanks to You, Lord my God, with all my heart, and I will glorify Your name forever.” (Ps. 86:12). Jesus also deserves your praise.

  • Even if you lose everything on Earth, your eternal inheritance cannot be taken away. If you have accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you could lose everything and still have the promise of an unimaginable inheritance in heaven. Paul saw heaven and revealed that words cannot describe the beauty and love that await (1 Cor. 2:9). If you feel you have lost everything, put your hope on your eternal life (Titus 1:2).

6. Answered Prayers: During a Trial, Jesus Hears Your Prayers. Ps. 88:13-14.

  • God hears and answers your prayers according to His will. The psalmist cried out for God to hear his many prayers: “13 But I, Lord, have cried out to You for help, and in the morning my prayer comes before You. 14 Lord, why do You reject my soul? Why do You hide Your face from me?” (Ps. 88:13-14). Through Jeremiah, God declared that He will answer your prayers when you call upon Him: “Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” (Jer. 33:3).

  • David had the faith to know that God would answer his prayers.  As a sign of his faith, David praised God in advance for answering his prayer and protecting him: “I was crying out to the LORD with my voice, and He answered me from His holy mountain.” (Ps. 3:4).  “A Psalm of David. Answer me when I call, God of my righteousness! You have relieved me in my distress; be gracious to me and hear my prayer.” (Ps. 4:1). “I have called upon You, for You will answer me, God; incline Your ear to me, hear my speech.”  (Ps. 17:6).  “In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried to my God for help; He heard my voice from His temple, and my cry for help before Him came into His ears.”  (Ps. 18:6).  “For I wait for You, LORD; You will answer, Lord my God.”  (Ps. 38:15).  If you fail to believe in the power of prayer, God is less likely to answer you.

  • Thank God when He answers your prayers. David also made a habit of thanking God when He answered David’s prayers: “I was crying out to the LORD with my voice, and He answered me from His holy mountain.  Selah”  (Ps. 3:4).  “But know that the LORD has set apart the godly person for Himself; the LORD hears when I call to Him.”  (Ps. 4:3).  “Leave me, all you who practice injustice, for the LORD has heard the sound of my weeping.”  (Ps. 6:8).  “In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried to my God for help; He heard my voice from His temple, and my cry for help before Him came into His ears.”  (Ps. 18:6).  “Blessed be the LORD, because He has heard the sound of my pleading.”  (Ps. 28:6). Thus, David always praised God:  “Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; for His faithfulness is everlasting.”  (1 Chr. 16:34).  If you fail to make a habit of thanking Him, you may take Him for granted.  Even in times when he was jailed and persecuted, Paul worshiped God and gave thanks: “always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to our God and Father;”  (Eph. 5:20). Are you thanking God for the prayers that He has already answered and the future ones?

  • The effective fervent prayer of the righteous can accomplish great things.  Once you confess your sins to Jesus, God promises that those who pray fervently and in faith can accomplish much:  “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.”  (Ja. 5:16).  As an example of this, God heard Elijah’s prayers to both stop and later restart the rain in Israel:  “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months.  Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit.”  (Ja. 5:17-18).  As another example, Nehemiah prayed continually for God to see and hear the prayers of His sinful people:  ‘“let Your ear now be attentive and Your eyes open, to hear the prayer of Your servant which I am praying before You now, day and night, on behalf of the sons of Israel Your servants,”’  (Neh. 1:6 ).  God also wants you to pray fervently to Him to intervene when you need deliverance.

7. Restoration: When You Feel Hopeless, Jesus Offers Restoration. Ps. 88:15-18.

  • When death approaches, trust in God’s promises of eternal restoration. The psalmist concluded with a feeling of desperation as death approached him: “15 I was miserable and about to die from my youth on; I suffer Your terrors; I grow weary. 16 Your burning anger has passed over me; Your terrors have destroyed me. 17 They have surrounded me like water all day long; they have encircled me altogether. 18 You have removed lover and friend far from me; My acquaintances are in a hiding place.” (Ps. 88:15-18). Job also sadly felt as though God had brought him terror: “For the arrows of the Almighty are within me, My spirit drinks their poison; the terrors of God line up against me.” (Job 6:4). Both of these men of faith lacked God’s promises of eternal restoration.

PSALM 88-Prayer for Help in Despondency

Find hope in Jesus when you feel hopeless8

  • Give thanks that Jesus will restore you and bring you joy. With faith in Jesus, you can give thanks that He has “abolished death” (2 Tim. 1:10). In heaven, He will restore you and bring you joy: “Those who sow in tears shall harvest with joyful shouting.” (Ps. 126:5). “And the redeemed of the LORD will return and come to Zion with joyful shouting, and everlasting joy will be on their heads. They will obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.” (Is. 35:10). “And the redeemed of the LORD will return and come to Zion with joyful shouting, and everlasting joy will be on their heads. They will obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.” (Is. 51:11). “ . . . for you will have the LORD as an everlasting light, and the days of your mourning will be over.” (Is. 60:20). “and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” (Rev. 21:4). Thus, if you are feeling sad, rejected or alone, you can give thanks that Jesus will restore you and bring you joy.

  • If you are lacking joy, cry out to Jesus to have it restored. Thankfully, you don’t need to wait until heaven to find joy. Jesus offers you joy through the Holy Spirit: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,” (Gal. 5:22). “for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Ro. 14:17). “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Ro. 15:13). If you are lacking joy, call out to Jesus for His joy: “Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and sustain me with a willing spirit.” (Ps. 51:12). When Jesus restores your joy, praise Him: “I will rejoice and be jubilant in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.” (Ps. 9:2). “But rejoice, all who take refuge in You, sing for joy forever! And may You shelter them, that those who love Your name may rejoice in You.” (Ps. 5:11). “My lips will shout for joy when I sing praises to You; and my soul, which You have redeemed.” (Ps. 71:23).

  • Jesus sometimes takes you into the wilderness so that you will listen. In Hosea 2:14, God says “Therefore, behold, I will allure her, bring her into the wilderness and speak kindly to her.” Sometimes life becomes so busy that you can’t hear the Holy Spirit’s direction. Sometimes, He must pull you into the wilderness before you will listen. If every minute of your day is filled with activity, how much time does He have to speak with you?

  • God puts you through trials so that you may turn to Him. After the Jews had escaped from Egypt, Moses explained that God frequently tests His people: “for God has come in order to test you, and in order that the fear of Him may remain with you, so that you may not sin.” (Ex. 20:20(b); Dt. 8:2). David also warned that even the righteous are not beyond God’s testing: “The Lord tests the righteous and the wicked . . .” (Ps. 11:5). “I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, . . .” (Jer. 17:10). God’s testing and discipline are done out of love (Heb. 12:6). When you are tested, you may find that your heart has hidden anger, lust, or covetousness. When God exposes wickedness, He expects you to repent of it: “the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9). David invited God’s testing to show him where he needed to change (Ps. 139:23). Your trials produce perseverance and endurance: “And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance;” (Ro. 5:3). “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” (Jam. 1:2-3). Paul faced a similar trial when he faced death in Asia. He advised that God put him through trials so that he would rely upon Him and not his own strength: (2 Cor. 1:8-10). God uses trials to prepare you for even greater conflicts to come. Are you turning to Jesus to build up your faith and deliver you during your trials?