Reading Time: 4 minutesMy Only Friend Is Darkness
LORD, why do you say no to me? Why do you turn your face away from me? I’ve been in pain ever since I was young. I’ve been close to death. You have made me suffer terrible things. I have lost all hope. Your burning anger has swept over me. Your terrors have destroyed me. All day long they surround me like a flood. They have closed in all around me. You have taken my companions and loved ones away from me. The darkness is my closest friend. (Psalms 88: 14-18)
Most of the psalms which begin in sorrow end in exuberant joy and praise. This is an exception. There seems to be no break in the monotony of grief and despair. In Psalms 88:1-8 it would appear that the psalmist was oppressed by some loathsome disorder which made even his friends shrink from companionship. But it is a hopeful sign when, even in such circumstances, a man can still speak of God as “the God of my salvation.” (FB Meyer Commentary re Psalms 88).
It is especially during times like these when we can all feel more acutely the very hard things that pass through our lives, and burst into our souls with a frenzy that we have no idea where it came from or why:
“Thou hast shewed thy people hard things” (Psalms 60:3).
Sometimes, we live in an inner world where paradoxes abound, where ambiguities proliferate, where contradictions and conflict erupt, and day becomes night. Because we live in an age of non-faith; we are prone to suffering various psychological trauma, as we are plunged into the dark night of the soul. Perhaps, we can ask the question here, whether this dark night of the soul has a much wider application in our lives than what we traditionally think.
I have always been happy to see that the Psalmist said to God that some things were hard. He calls them “hard things” in Psalms 60:3. There is no mistake about it; all of us know full well, there are “hard things” in life. When I go into the mountains, I am struck with how diligently some of the flowers and trees will grow up and thrive very well in rocky, hostile terrain. Consistently, every year. Perhaps we could call these “Rock Flowers,” or Rock Trees?” They seem to grow so well on areas that have no soil. And then, I think of God’s flowers growing in hard places; and I feel, somehow, that He may have a peculiar tenderness for His “rock flowers” or His “rock trees,” that He may not even have for His perfect lilies and roses.
The tests of life are to make, not break us. Trouble may demolish a person’s confidence, or their livelihood, or their home life, but they are also capable of building up our character. The blow we feel in our dark night, may be the greatest blessing to the inner soul. If God, then, puts or permits anything hard in our lives, we be sure that the real peril, the real trouble, is what we shall lose if we flinch or rebel against Jesus. The Bible seems to reflect how “God gets his best soldiers out of the highlands of affliction.”
In Psalms 88:9-18 the psalmist combats his despair by reminding God and himself that his has been a praying soul. Surely the Almighty will not forget his outstretched hands, nor the prayers that have anticipated the morning! It is a true argument. That you can pray at all is a sure sign that the divine Spirit is within your heart. From unknown depths He is helping your infirmity, and this proves that God has not forgotten or forsaken you. If just now life’s bark is overwhelmed with difficulty, God rules the waves. The storm-wind will presently subside at His rebuke. Lover and friend will again stand round about you, and your soul will come back into light. God’s days are not like man’s-from morning to evening, but from dark to dawn. (FB Meyer Commentary re Psalms 88).
It is in this sense, during the dark night of the soul, that there are times when our only friend is darkness. Because there is “Light in every cloud.”
Clouds fill an important place both in the O.T. and N.T. They were the celestial veil of the presence of God — His chariot, and the hiding place of His power. It pleased God to manifest His presence to Israel in a cloud. The PILLAR OF CLOUD guided the children of Israel through the wilderness. Exodus 40:34-38. When they constructed the tabernacle Jehovah promised to appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat. Lev 16:2. On special occasions Jehovah came down in a cloud, and spake unto Moses. Num 11:25. At the dedication of the temple ‘the cloud’ filled the house so that the priests could not minister because of the cloud: “for the glory of Jehovah had filled the house of Jehovah.” 1 Kings 8:10,11, Num 14:10. This visible symbol of God’s glory, is often called the SHECHINAH. The word is from the Aramaic shakan ‘to rest.’ The word does not occur in scripture, but is often used by Jewish and Christian writers as signifying the dwelling or resting place of Jehovah as being in the clouds.
In the N.T. on the Mount of Transfiguration, a cloud overshadowed those present, and “a voice came out of the cloud, saying,
“This is my beloved Son: hear him.” Luke 9:34, 35
At the ascension a cloud received the Lord out of their sight. Acts 1:9. At rapture the dead and the living saints will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, 1 Thes 4:17, and when He comes to the earth He will come with clouds. Luke 21:27; Rev. 1:7. In the future, one ‘like unto the Son of man’ will sit upon ‘a white cloud,’ and execute judgments upon the earth. Rev 14:14-16. The mighty God who dwells in light unapproachable by man manifested His presence shrouded by clouds. THAT my friends, is Light In The Clouds.” Amen. Praise The Lord!