"From my youth I have been afflicted and close to death; I have suffered your terrors and am in despair." -Psalm 88
This quotation is extracted from the only psalm in the Bible that concludes with not a shred of spoken hope. In it we find the zeal and faithfulness of a man who devoted himself to God, received no answers in return and spent his youth in darkness. If we probe the depths of the psalm we discover a lostness that goes far deeper than the grain of todays narcissistic 'emo' pop culture. This is the lostness of a wise man, a man of God, who contends with the forces of God's wrath, the encompassing of death, hatred among friends and the final prospect of damnation to the cold and black realm of Sheol and Abbadon. Note that his string of prayers and supplications throughout the psalm avail him no answer or change in situation; and from his position God will never answer.
Naturally this psalm offers us great encouragement. Note that though this man never received his answer from God, God took note of him enough to have his name (recorded as Heman the Ezrahite) and his prayer included in the canon to be remembered forever. God remembered him. Secondly, as the church affirms the inspiredness of the Psalter, it is worth noting that God's very Spirit breathed life into these words and made them the Word. This argues a closeness and intimacy that Heman may not have realized. Finally, we must conclude that as our lives draw near to the fires of Hell, as God's wrath lies forcefully on us and our prayers avail nothing...they avail everything. The hope and promise of God's grace, according to this psalm is completely independant of our experience and our life. We, like William Cowper the hymnist, can spend the length of our days in utter despair and never recover...and God remembers us. God records our name and our prayer, listing us as those who fear Him (Malachi 3:16).
"They will be mine," says the Lord Almighty,"in the day when I make up my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as in compassion a man spares his son who serves him. And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not." (Malachi 3:17-18)