Psalm 88 - As The Waters Rise // Josh Gauton

Psalm 88:1-9 (MSG)
"God, you’re my last chance of the day. I spend the night on my knees before you. Put me on your salvation agenda; take notes on the trouble I’m in. I’ve had my fill of trouble; I’m camped on the edge of hell. I’m written off as a lost cause, one more statistic, a hopeless case. Abandoned as already dead, one more body in a stack of corpses, And not so much as a gravestone - I’m a black hole in oblivion. You’ve dropped me into a bottomless pit, sunk me in a pitch-black abyss. I’m battered senseless by your rage, relentlessly pounded by your waves of anger. You turned my friends against me, made me horrible to them. I’m caught in a maze and can’t find my way out, blinded by tears of pain and frustration."

 

Wow. That’s not the kind of passage you often hear read in a church gathering, or meditated on to kick off an epic time of worship! The Psalms are frequently referred to as the hymnbook of the Bible, but I imagine what might be in people’s minds when they say this are the kind of passages that describe the glory of God, calling nations to bow before him etc. “I’m battered senseless by your rage” – not so much.

Interestingly though, so much of the Psalms are made up of writers, including King David, crying out to God in despair and in pain, calling for help and expressing the full range of their emotions. It can be so extreme that at points you’d be forgiven for wondering if what you are reading is even theologically correct! However, it could be said that if our worship is not reflecting the full scope of our emotion and experience, then we are simply offering God a perfectly packaged and conveniently censored version of ourselves. Worship where authenticity is replaced with performance.

A little while ago, a number of people close to me went through some experiences that got me thinking more about this subject. A couple we know lost their baby to a terminal condition it had been born with, my wife was struggling with acute anxiety and an ongoing phobia was causing me to have minor panic attacks. In this time, the following questions were prevalent in my mind:

What does faith look like when suffering doesn’t have an end in sight? What does it feel like to be trapped in a cycle of despair, so far in it’s unimaginable that God could ever help you escape, if indeed He even wanted to at all?

As a songwriter, my approach in attempting to understand all this was to put my musings into verse and melody. The result was a song called As The Waters Rise – my musical representation of the questions I had been contemplating. [I’ve put the lyrics at the bottom of this article if you’d like to have a look at them.] When you’re caught up in struggles much bigger than you can possibly manage on your own, it can feel like you’re drowning. The waters rise, and quickly you feel helpless. The question on your mouth becomes ‘God, where are you?’

In the desert of despair, where darkness appears to reign unchallenged, there lies a grain-of-sand speck of hope. At times, so seemingly small that it would be very easy to glance over it, but it is there regardless of it’s visibility - God is not a stranger to pain. He knows suffering, suffering which is best exemplified when Father, Son and Spirit were torn apart in cruel brutality on the cross. God knows pain, therefore he can empathise. What’s more, he has promised to right all wrongs eventually. Justice will reign in perfection, and pain will be eradicated, never to be seen again. This may not always be much of a comfort, but it is the only consistent and sure hope we can know. “I know I have this hope. It’s faint, but still I hope.”

Bring to God your suffering. He’s the only one who really knows what to do with it.

 

_________________

Josh Gauton, WC Creative Director

 

AS THE WATERS RISE LYRICS:

See this darkness weigh heavy over me
As I reach out to rest beyond my view

It's a cold, cold grip and it's tightening,
Feel my head slip under as the waters rise
Nothing else seems real when the fear sets in,
This is sink or swim now as the waters rise

Could you pull me through if you wanted to
'Cos I'm helpless here
Now my mind's ablaze with spiralling thoughts and they keep me in chains

It's a cold, cold grip and it's tightening,
Feel my head slip under as the waters rise
Nothing else seems real when the fear sets in,
This is sink or swim now as the waters rise

I know I have this hope, this hope
I know I have this hope, this hope
It's faint but still I hope, I hope
I know I have this hope, this hope

 

Listen to a preview of the song HERE, or buy it on iTunes.