Seasons of the Soul: Dying
“For my soul is full of troubles, and my life draws near to Sheol.”(Psalm 88:3, NRSV)
The writer of Psalm 88 was not only having a bad day, but he was also having a bad life. The entirety of the Psalm is a series of “woe is me” laments, interspersed with questions about how God could abandon the Psalmist and his cries for help. Unlike other Psalms, the author never moves toward any resolution where he acknowledges that even though it feels as if God has abandoned him, his faith assures him that God must be present in his circumstances in some way.
What I love about Psalm 88 is that it is an honest statement of what is in his heart. It’s unfiltered. It’s unedited. It’s real. The Psalmist just lays it all out there as a challenge to God to prove that God really does care. In some respects, his honesty is an act of faith. He is affirming that the way he feels is not what he believes is the way God interacts with him and with the world. The Psalmist is saying, “This is not who I know you to be, God, so it’s time for you to show up and do what only you can do.” We don’t know if God ever came to his aid—but my faith says God did.
This week, I’m talking about the wintry season of our souls where it feels like everything has died. The harsh winds, the long nights, and the arctic air leave us feeling isolated and alone. It’s a season of waiting, and our impatient souls resist the dormancy required for regeneration. Our anxiety compels us to do something… To do anything… To rid us of the fear of nothingness. In our seasons of dying, what most often dies is our need to be in control, our need to know the exact outcome before we get there, and our inability to trust the goodness of God who ultimately knows what is best for us. It is in the dying season that the landscape of our lives looks the bleakest, but we are called to keep looking for the shoots of spring. Hoping, squinting, straining for hints of green, we question whether this time, spring will come again? ~Dale Cohen