When my brother and I, about 8 and 10 years old, waited in the bar till dad took us home, I often heard the expression “Crying in Your Beer.” A sharecropper would take his troubles to the bar, order a few beers, and, as the liquor loosened his tongue, feeling down in the dumps, he’d unload all his miseries on the bartender.
A poor sharecropper, dependent on rain and God’s favorable weather, had a lot to grumble about. Drought that caused hundreds of acres of corn crops to burn up; a wife confined to bed for a month with a serious pneumonia; a landlord who cheated him out of his fair share percentage of the harvest that year. And it seemed no one cared.
The psalmist in Psalm 88 had his share of woes, too. “For my soul is full of troubles” (v 3); “I am like a man without strength” (v 4); “You have overwhelmed me with all your waves (v 7); and “darkness is my closest friend” (v 18).
Unlike the bartender, who could only listen, the psalmist had hope. He could offer this prayer, “O Lord, the one who saves me, day and night I cry out before you” (v 1). At times the psalmist felt that the Lord had rejected him and hid his face from him, so he cried out to him. The psalmist’s cry was transparent. He acknowledged that God had “put me in the lowest pit, in the darkest depths” (v 6).
In the last few months I’ve cried out to the Lord as the psalmist did. I felt so overwhelmed I couldn’t see any rescue or help. Besides my cancer, I had one health problem after another.
Thankfully he gently reminds us that he not only hears our terrors and despair, but also dries up our tears as he takes us through the miseries of life. So we pray, “I call to you, O Lord, every day;” (v 8) and “you turn your ear to my cry” (v 2). He’s much superior to any bartender! God not only listens; He answers our cries and delivers us.