Sermon – Trust in God when the lights are out (Psalms 88:1 – 88:18) – Cornerstone Church Kingston
Plan your visit



Trust in God when the lights are out series thumbnail
Sermons in series

Show all Down arrow 75 sermons

Spotify logo Apple logo Google logo

Sermon 35 of 75

Trust in God when the lights are out

Maurice Kinnaird, Psalms 88:1 - 88:18, 30 May 2021

Morris Kinnaird preaches from Psalm 88, about trusting God in the darkness.

Psalms 88:1 - 88:18

88:1   O LORD, God of my salvation,
    I cry out day and night before you.
  Let my prayer come before you;
    incline your ear to my cry!
  For my soul is full of troubles,
    and my life draws near to Sheol.
  I am counted among those who go down to the pit;
    I am a man who has no strength,
  like one set loose among the dead,
    like the slain that lie in the grave,
  like those whom you remember no more,
    for they are cut off from your hand.
  You have put me in the depths of the pit,
    in the regions dark and deep.
  Your wrath lies heavy upon me,
    and you overwhelm me with all your waves. Selah
  You have caused my companions to shun me;
    you have made me a horror to them.
  I am shut in so that I cannot escape;
    my eye grows dim through sorrow.
  Every day I call upon you, O LORD;
    I spread out my hands to you.
10   Do you work wonders for the dead?
    Do the departed rise up to praise you? Selah
11   Is your steadfast love declared in the grave,
    or your faithfulness in Abaddon?
12   Are your wonders known in the darkness,
    or your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?
13   But I, O LORD, cry to you;
    in the morning my prayer comes before you.
14   O LORD, why do you cast my soul away?
    Why do you hide your face from me?
15   Afflicted and close to death from my youth up,
    I suffer your terrors; I am helpless.
16   Your wrath has swept over me;
    your dreadful assaults destroy me.
17   They surround me like a flood all day long;
    they close in on me together.
18   You have caused my beloved and my friend to shun me;
    my companions have become darkness.


Transcript (Auto-generated)

This transcript has been automatically generated, and therefore may not be 100% accurate.

Lord, you are the God who saves me. Day and night, I cry out to you. May my prayer come before you? Turn your ear to my cry. I am overwhelmed of troubles.

And my life draws near to death. I am counted among those who go down to the pit. I am like 1 without strength. I am set apart with the dead like the slain who lie in the grave. Whom you remember no more, who are cut off from your care.

You have put me in the lowest pit In the darkest depths, your wrath lies heavy on me. You have overwhelmed me with all your waves. You've taken from me my closest friends and have made me repulsive to them. I'm confined and cannot escape every day, I spread out my hands to you. Do you show your wonders to the dead?

Do their spirits rise up and praise you? Is your love declared in the grave, your faithfulness in destruction? Are your wonders known in the place of darkness or your righteous deeds in the land of oblivion, but I cry to you for help, Lord. In the morning, my prayer comes before you. Why Lord do you reject me?

And hide your face from me. From my youth, I have suffered and been close to death. I have borne your terrors and I'm in despair. Your wrath has swept over me. Your terrors have destroyed me all day long they surround me like a flood.

They have completely engulfed me. You have taken from me, friend, and neighbor. Darkness is my closest friend. Little of a dark psalm, isn't it? And you're wondering whether you should have stayed at home.

Am I gonna preach you into depression? Well, hopefully not, but I'll do my best not to do that. Though the clip we have just seen has underlined to us that there are dark emotions in our lives, even as believers who trust in God and seek to follow the Lord Jesus. So we need to be aware of that. Can you imagine going to a Chelsea supporter and saying to them, are you depressed?

Well, no, we have just won the European League final. Can you imagine coming to a friend who just comes off a lovely walk in the hills somewhere around here. And saying, did you struggle with the darkness as you walked along today, particularly in your pub lunch. Can you imagine maybe speaking to 1 of those people who have simply got it made in so many ways materially and saying, but life's dark too, isn't it. But actually my friends, darkness is something that nearly all of us will experience.

In some form or other in our lives. I personally did so and have done so. I'm 64 years of age, and I have known darkness at various seasons in my life. The last 1 was just before I retired from the pastor at in Lincoln. And I have to say that on lovely sunny days, the darkness was real.

My favorite football team, might have won, with a glorious victory, but I was still knowing the darkness. And I would waken in the morning having maybe slept through the night, and the darkness was still there. And 1 of the ways I was healed was reading this Psalm. Not the only way. Psalalm 88, a Psalm of unrelieved darkness.

On a sunny day, Who decided that I would speak on unrelieved darkness? Well, it was me. Derek Kidner says there is no sudden prayer in the Bible than this Psalm. The conclusion of the prayer says it all verse 18. Darkness is my only friend.

So what is this prayer doing in a book that the reveals the God of love who saves us and brings us into what we call light. Knowing him who is the God of light in whom there is no darkness at all. Here we see a believing who knows God and knows God saves. Look at this 1. 0 Lord, the God who saves me.

And here, we hear a man, praying to God with strong cries every single day in his darkness. Verse 2, verse 9, and verse 13. In his daily prolonged darkness, which will not be relieved in this Psalm. He continues to trust God. That is why this Psalm is in the bible.

You may be going through some darkness in your life It's not being relieved. It has not lifted. It has been prolonged. And you say, well why would I want to read a sum of darkness in my darkness. Well, the answer is God on stands your darkness and has included a psalm in which at that point the darkness was never relieved.

From the man who was going through it. And yet, when you read this Psalm, it is profoundly about God. And not about the man. It is about the man, and he will describe himself in so many way. Don Carson says that if the preaching does not tackle the hard matters that's happening in life then the church will believe all the culture says about the matter.

Furthermore, the culture will never hear the good news in the hard matter. So our culture, unless I'm I'm in a different culture altogether, is talking about mental health in all kinds of ways. And that is important, and I do not dismiss the conversation or the things that are being said. But does the Bible make any difference Does this world view of worshiping the living God through His son the Lord Jesus have anything to contribute that is different to the cultural station. Because if we don't go here, we will just replicate even as a gospel church.

What the culture said, about the darkness. The contemporary church, of which I love the church through the Lord Jesus Christ. Might tell this man in the Psalm to give up praying and take the practical steps to end his depression as recommended by the culture, and there may be some wisdom in that. Not the up a praying, by the way? Or get a healing experience with immediate effect, no more darkness, gone in an instant of miraculous healing.

It's very attractive, isn't it? It was massively attractive to me walking around a wood in Lincoln. The culture says to us, in so many ways, we will fix you. Sounds like a cold place. Song.

Well, of course, it is. But Christopher Rush is right. A true follower of Jesus may be taken by God through a time of deep and dark despair. This is a very important truth, end quote. So as we look at this man in Psalm 88, He has a passion for God.

He has a deep love for Christ or the prophetic Christ. He's living a godly life with no secret sin. There's no neglect of the scriptures or a faithless heart. God's people have not been left, and yet he's in the darkness. And so what we have here, my friends, is a humble, courageous faith in God.

To trust when the lights are out. We can trust God when the lights are on. When we see what he's doing, when we understand something of what he's revealing. And we ought to trust God when the lights are on, of course. But can we trust the god of heaven, the god of eternal light when the lights are out, not his, of course.

Heman wrote this song to be sung in gathered worship. Isn't that interesting? Can you imagine singing Psalm 88 once Sunday morning and ending with unrelieved darkness. We do need to learn lament though, don't we? Lemonent in our songs and in our prayers.

Well, we focus not upon ourselves exclusively, but we take ourselves and our experience, particularly its darkness, to the God of heaven, who is our father, who loves us in Christ. Christ who is our sympathetic, high priest, who was tempted in every way like we are yet without sin. Human was 1 of the sons of Korah, who wrote songs for the believing community to sing and to pray. And so they wrote a song saying to the believing community, trust God when the lights are out in your life. When you feel an internal darkness, you may even stand in amongst the people of God as they declare the praises of God with great joy and gladness.

And you stand there, and all you know is darkness. I remember going to church during this period of time. I wasn't preaching. Every Sunday I would go in, it was a struggle to go in, and it was a struggle to come out. But what I wanted to hear was that Teaching of the word of God.

But I wanted to hear more than that. As an afflicted man, I wanted to hear the people of God sing the praises of God, the objective hymns of the greatness of the gospel. Even though the darkness shrouded my life. So 2 things, this evening as we kind of try to make our way through this. That was a bit of a long introduction.

I didn't mean to be so long. I'm under pressure now. And you're not helping me because you're not sympathetic. Yes, you are. Trusting God in the dark at work.

That's what we see in this song. Trusting God in the dark at work. We see a courageous man at work in the place of prayer. His description of his internal life, if you read it carefully, particularly versus 3 through to 8 is 1, in fact, actually, of great weakness. But here we see him.

Here we see him coming in faith to the God who is there even though he can't see him. There is no superficiality in this sum. Yes. The culture tells us, The darkness can be overcome if we get medication, engage in the talking therapies, get a diet, exercise, have rest, share with each other and take responsibilities. But I want to ask a question.

What happens if you do all of that and it doesn't lift? When the darkness is stubborn, and worse you don't even get the miracle that you crave for in the grace of God. The God could easily zap us out of it in a second And it was this Psalm that has saved so many people in the notness. Notice the honesty of verses 3 to 8. His soul is full of trouble, and he feels like a dying man.

He is not gravely ill, but down in a deep pit emotionally. He's like an abandoned man whose body has been thrown into the pit on a battlefield. That's the image here. He feels like God has forgotten him. He's got off from God's care, he thinks.

And God is so strange to him that God has put him into the deepest part of the pit. He feels that God is punishing him. His wrath weighs heavily upon him. He feels like a drowning man because the strong seeds of God are overwhelming him with his way. He's even friendless in verse 8, repulsive to his friend.

After all, a person in the darkness is no fun, are they? And obviously this poor man has some deep weakness in his life. And it is hard work, isn't it, if we're to pray alongside a person like this. Particularly when our culture says, We've only got time for the strong and the successful. And yet the Bible tells us at the strong best with the weak.

And so praying, takes great courage. And I would honor this Psalmest as he has described himself in verses 3 to 8. I would honor this man among us today. The word would not honor him. Your colleagues would not honor him.

And yet, here he is, included in scripture by the God who loves. If there's honesty here, there is also A questioning of God in verses 9 through to 12. I'll I'll read those verses if I may. My eyes are dim with grief, I call to you Lord every day. I spread out my hands to you.

Do you show your wonders to the dead? Do do their spirits rise up and praise you. Is your love declared in the grave your faithfulness and destruction? Are your wonders known in the place of darkness or your righteous deeds in the land of oblivion? Now, what strikes you about that?

Well, what strikes me is there are set strange questions really, aren't they? They're all about God. Questions that show this man turning to God I think in a deeply courageous way. What are the themes here? The themes of the wonders of God, the dead raised to life The steadfast love of God, the faithfulness and righteous deeds of the living God.

This man seems to have a real heart to praise God. He seems to want to come out of this darkness not for any selfish comfort and return to some kind of godless normality. We've wanted to come back to normality, haven't we? Since lockdown. Oh, what a joy to come down on Friday to the normality of the m 6 the M 42, and to crown it all the M 25, and count the planes in all 3 of them.

Blessed normality. Well, that's not the normality we want, is it really? But this man doesn't want to come out of his darkness for any sense of selfish comfort entitlement. The questions show us that the man knows that God is in the dark with him. That's why he asked the questions about God.

Because he knows that God is there? I have to confess to you something. As a little boy, not so little, I used to hate the dark. I used to have a night light for years. There you go.

You've been in the dark since you were 6 months, and well done from that. But we were staying somewhere and it was no night light, and I was crying a lot. So my mother sat with me in the dark. I couldn't see her. I knew that she was there.

God the father is with us, my friend. It's 1 of the great promises of scripture that the Lord is with us, and the Lord never leaves and the darkness is light to him. And he is always in the light. And when we cannot see We can know that he is with us. And of course, the greatest demonstration of the willingness of God is, of course, his son who came and bled and died for us and rose again from the dead, and even more glorious the Holy Spirit came to live inside us.

That's why we call Godfather and have a sense of salvation that has been given to us forever. The regular heel of this man, in courageous faith, is to come to this God in his darkness every day? I'm sure his heart tempted him to abandon God, to turn away from the living God. Maybe his friends and family said to him, you know, God's really the root of the problem. If you just ditch God, the dick darkness will lift.

And maybe maybe on some moment of cultural experience, there wasn't an emotional lifting to some degree and maybe he said to himself, yes, maybe, it is the culture that will lift the darkness. And this bible stuff This gospel stuff is irrelevant. But every day, deliberately probably with not much joy. Turns to the living God and talks to God. Courageous And if it's just saying the Lord's prayer, or it's just saying, The the the the Lord's my shepherd little thing.

As simple as that. At 1 point, my concentration was so disturbed. The only book I could read was the Children's bible. Oh, beautiful truth. So simple to my trouble, so.

But in these verses, you will also see an mourning appear in verses 13 to 18. We're nearly there. Morning is a hard time in the darkness. Getting going on the treadmill of human existence for many of us can be difficult, but when the darkness is pronounced, even more difficult, and there may have been a very disturbed night also. And yet in the morning, verse 13 tells us that the man calls for help, and his morning prayer still comes before the Lord.

He knows that he needs God In fact, he's getting help from God, although he doesn't feel it. Now we live in the day of feelings. And feelings are supposed to define us. And our culture, even post pandemic, well, it's not quite post pandemic, you know what I mean, is very much subjective, and it's all about feelings. Now feelings are important, so I don't wanna dismiss them.

We're human beings after all, aren't we? Well, most of us anyway. But you cannot trust feelings. Feel come and go. Feelings are irrational.

And you find it here in these verses. He's like a drowning man out of his depth. He thinks that God's terrors have come upon his life verse 16. Can't trust your feelings. And I can't trust mine.

Here he is, trusting God with lights out. And all he's got is the truth. This church loves the Bible, and I know it does, and we pray for this church, we do, for all kinds of reasons, but chiefly because you're a gospel center a church who holds up the good news of our Jesus and teaches the Bible as faith fully as you come. You are a blessed people. Aren't you?

Every every Sunday coming and getting truth. And of course, you don't have to just come here get the truth. You can get the truth from from reading scripture every day of your life. I hope trust you're reading the bible every day of your life. It's not easy.

I'm sure it can be difficult. It is for me at times. But there will come a time in the darkness when all you've got is the truth, and you'll need it then. And if you don't put it into your mind and heart, when the lights are on, it is very unlikely that any truth will come across your mind when the lights are off. Well, that's how it works.

This whole kind of praying in the darkened. But I want to finish by a second truth. Trusting God in the dark, the real truth. This sad prayer ends with unrelieved dark And the darkness does not lift. I'm saying to you, it's a it's a call to courageous faith.

And throughout this some were seeing no simplicity, no platitudes, no darkness dismissed, no avoidance, no cultural demand, that success only is allowed among the people of God. No triumphalism by the backdoor. No prosperity gospel by the backdoor. No superficiality. That's the key.

We're called to maturity. But I want us to say that the last word of the Psalm is not the absolute truth of the Bible. Isn't that good news? Because hardly wait to get to this and it's 25 plus 7. Richard clock.

Dark is my closest friend. He's not the up absolute truth of the Bible. From Genesis 3 15, right to the end of Revelation 2 is called salvation history. And when you're reading the bible, you need to find out where you are on the plot line of salvation history and where we are on the plot line is in the old testament part of the bible where a prophesied deliver has been promised. When you get into the new testament, the prophesied deliverer comes.

His name is Jesus. And he dies and rises again, and then ascends to heaven to rule over all things. 1 day to come again to, in fact, bring in his new creation. We'll see that in a minute. This is not the last word.

You see, when you're in you think the darkness is the absolute. But it's There is an absolute darkness, my friends, and only 1 man ever entered that darkness, and we want to end with him. The Anglican book of common prayer, if you don't mind me referring to that. This Psalm Psalm 88 is assigned to be read on good Friday. Jesus is the only believing man or person to enter into the absolute darkness where God was not.

Or if God was there, he was there only in judgment and without mercy. Jesus quoted Psalm 22 verse to as he dies on the cross, recorded by Matthew and by Mark. My God my God. Why have you forsaken me? The most righteous man in the history of the world.

The man who trusted in God at all times, on the cross goes to hell. Couldn't have written it, could you? The absolute darkness envelops him. No wonder the cross was shrouded in darkness at midday. It is here the sun enters on our behalf into that darkness.

So here's the good news. We don't have to. Not even the Lord Jesus Christ, was left in the absolute darkness forever. Yes, he died that death for you and for me, but he rose again from the dead and lives forever. Spurgeon said, when you cannot trace God's hand, we must learn to trust his heart.

So where do you learn to trust the of God. It is at the cross. It is seeing again with prolonged medit the lord Jesus Christ entering the absolute darkness for you. The God of heaven who loved his son, loved him from all eternity, abandoned him to complete justice. Culture shouting for justice.

Doesn't know what justice is half the time anyway. Here is justice. Here is the justice you and I deserve. And this is justice that we will never get. There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.

Nothing separates us from the love of God, which is towards us in Christ. Jacob was a man who met God in the darkness in Genesis 32. God wrestled into the ground in the darkness. Jacob was a proud man. He relied upon himself.

He had his structures and he systems, and all that other kind of stuff that our culture soul loves, and it is important some of it, but it's all self salvation. Isn't it? Jacob was wrestled to the ground, and he limps away the next morning. In the grace of God, a humbled, strengthened man to face his greatest fear, his murderous brother Eesol. When Satan should buffet and trials should let this blessed assurance control that Christ has regarded our helpless estate.

And shed his own blood for our souls. And then you can face the fears of the life that you know are coming your way this week. You can face the fears of the darkness that is not being lifted from your life though you long for it to be lifted and normality to return at this blessed assurance control. We run to the day, the ultimate day of eternal light, where now landing here, okay, where the darkness cannot touch us, and the groaning is no more. And we will trust God for with the full light on.

And then the questions of verses 10 to 12 are fully and perfectly answered. The wonders of eternity are shown to us. We who are the dead in Christ but living in him forever we are the immortal spirits who rise to praise in unspeakable joy, the son who saves us. We are the redeemed who live in the pleasure that the triune God has for each other as they love each other. The faithfulness of God swallows up death as he promised, and every tight tear is wiped away from our eyes.

And all of this because there was 1 who obtained the wonders of God in the darkness and who brought us out who brought out perfect right in the land of human rebellion? We come to place where Christ, the light is my only friend, alongside all my other friends. Who make up the church, multitude the no man can number. And this, my friends. It's the unique contribution that the Bible and the Gospel makes to the whole conversation about depression and about mental health.

Let us pray. Take a moment. You may be the darkness. I do not minimize your darkness. You may be in the light, feeling invincible.

Well, the darkness will come. And what truth will you turn to them? We your life show a courageous faith in the weakness, as you trust God. How do we long for that day? Where the sun comes?

The dark goes. It is light forevermore. Our father in heaven. We are you today. We honor the man who wrote the Psalm.

Search honesty, such vulnerability. And yet such a model for us. And yet we would honor the 1 who came to greatest darkness. Lord, Jesus. We have never seen you yet.

We you. We have never seen you yet. We believe in you in the gospel. We entrust our lives to if we're in the darkness, help us to know that you are in the light, and you will take us through and guide us. Your word will be a light to our feet, even in those And, Lord, if we're not living in that darkness.

I pray that as a church we may always, never avoid the issues of emotional darkness in the lives of others, and we will love and pray, and sing of respect of truth and sing lament, helping our friends in Christ. To keep on running or even limping. In Jesus' name, amen.

Previous sermon Next sermon

Listen to our Podcasts to help you learn and grow Podcasts