Thirty-Ninth Day of Lent, Good Friday

Psalm 88

Good Friday—that day we can only call good because we know what comes next. For the first disciples and certainly for Jesus, that first Good Friday was anything but good.

Psalm 88 is a unique disorientation psalm because it is the only one that does not come to any resolution by the end. All other psalms of disorientation find some hope in God again by the final verse. Psalm 88 is different. Psalm 88 is a Good Friday psalm—it leaves us in our distress, leaves Jesus dead in a grave, leaves us praying to God, “Why do you hide your face from me?”

This psalm evokes utter desperation for the Father. The psalmist feels so abandoned that he counts himself among the dead (vs. 5). I imagine these words scrolling through Jesus’ mind as His companions had abandoned Him, as He took on the wrath of God, and as He breathed His last. If these words are expressions included in our sacred Scriptures and if they express the very experience of the Son of God, I wonder what is stopping us from this type of raw, unfettered communication with the Father?

These difficult words are in our sacred Scriptures and if Jesus’ words, “Why have you forsaken me?” are any indication, than we know that Jesus thought the same things while on the cross. However we rarely pray this way. We rarely tell God exactly how we feel. When I feel distress about the future, I pray in niceties and ask that God will help me. I certainly don’t tell God just how desperate I am for His aid.

Psalm 88 and Good Friday remind us that God knows our deepest pain and it doesn’t scare Him away. He may not provide neat and tidy answers, but He will hear us.

As you attend a Good Friday service or as you end the day, I encourage you to enter into Psalm 88’s disorientation, entrusting your deepest self to God. It may not feel good today, but as we know, Sunday’s comin’!

Julia Sandstrom
Winnipeg, MB