By Sarah Cornwell
A Reading from Psalm 88
1 O Lord, my God, my Savior,
by day and night I cry to you.
2 Let my prayer enter into your presence;
incline your ear to my lamentation.
3 For I am full of trouble;
my life is at the brink of the grave.
4 I am counted among those who go down to the Pit;
I have become like one who has no strength;
5 Lost among the dead,
like the slain who lie in the grave,
6 Whom you remember no more,
for they are cut off from your hand.
7 You have laid me in the depths of the Pit,
in dark places, and in the abyss.
8 Your anger weighs upon me heavily,
and all your great waves overwhelm me.
9 You have put my friends far from me;
you have made me to be abhorred by them;
I am in prison and cannot get free.
10 My sight has failed me because of trouble;
Lord, I have called upon you daily;
I have stretched out my hands to you.
11 Do you work wonders for the dead?
will those who have died stand up and give you thanks?
12 Will your loving-kindness be declared in the grave?
your faithfulness in the land of destruction?
13 Will your wonders be known in the dark?
or your righteousness in the country where all is forgotten?
14 But as for me, O Lord, I cry to you for help;
in the morning my prayer comes before you.
15 Lord, why have you rejected me?
why have you hidden your face from me?
16 Ever since my youth, I have been wretched and at the point of death;
I have borne your terrors with a troubled mind.
17 Your blazing anger has swept over me;
your terrors have destroyed me;
18 They surround me all day long like a flood;
they encompass me on every side.
19 My friend and my neighbor you have put away from me,
and darkness is my only companion.
When life is going well, things can hum along like a perfectly calibrated machine. Work, relationships, health, and spiritual wellbeing all feed into one another like gears perfectly aligned in the perpetual motion of life. We lie down in peace at the end of a satisfying day, and awake refreshed, eagerly anticipating what the day has in store.
But there are periods in our life — sometimes short, sometimes long — when nothing seems to be in sync. Our work, relationships, and wellbeing are out of alignment, each ground down by friction between the others. At night, we lie awake, and by day, we walk around in a thick fog. Over time it may very well seem that darkness is our only companion.
Take heart! Our God is not only there when we’re feeling on top and rejoicing; he is also there when we are down in the pit, crying in anguish. The daily office can be a most necessary reminder of that. Through the rhythm of morning and evening prayer, we are invited to read the long narrative of the Bible, walking with our forefathers and mothers who themselves lived through periods of great joy as well as periods—sometimes quite long periods—of great sorrow.
If you woke up this morning and Psalm 88 felt accurate, trust that God is with you. Read the rest of the readings assigned for today, particularly the psalms for the evening, which offer great comfort. Then tomorrow, get up and continue with the daily office. And the next day. And the next day. Walk with faithful men and women who themselves were carried through dark seasons of their lives. If all is out of whack, find rhythm in God’s word that brings our lives into sync and leads us out of the darkness back into the light.
Sarah Cornwell is a laywoman and an associate of the Eastern Province of the Community of St. Mary. She and her husband have seven children and they live in Chicago.
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Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer
Today we pray for:
The Diocese of Mukono – The Church of the Province of Uganda
Christ Church Episcopal, Tulsa, Oklahoma