You have put away my acquaintance far from me…

8 You have put away my acquaintance far from me; you have made me an abomination to them: I am shut up, and I cannot come forth. Ps. 88:8

C. H. Spurgeon wrote eloquently on the subject of chronic illness and suffering. He was no stranger to the experience.  Here a few words taken from his study on the 88th Psalm:

“If ever we need friends it is in the dreary hour of despondency and the weary time of bodily sickness; therefore does the sufferer complain because divine providence had removed his friends. Perhaps his disease was infectious or defiling, so that he was legally separated from his fellow men, perhaps their fears kept them away from his plague stricken house, or else his good name and become so injured that they naturally avoided him. Most friends require but small excuse for turning their backs on the afflicted. The swallows offer no apology for leaving us to winter by ourselves. Yet is is a piercing pain which arises from the desertion of dear associates; is is a wound which festers and refuses to be healed.

“You have made me an abomination unto them…” They turned from him as though he had become loathsome and contaminating and this because of something which the Lord had done to him; therefore, he brings his complaint to the prime mover in his trouble. He who is still flattered by the companions of his pleasure can little guess the wretchedness which will be his portion should he become poor, or slanderously accused, for then one by one the parasites of his prosperity will go their way and leave him to his fate, not without cutting remarks on their part to increase his misery. Men have not so much power to bless by friendship as to curse by treachery. Earth’s poisons are more deadly than her medicines are healing. The mass of men who gather around a man and flatter him are like tame leopards; when they lick his hand it is well for him to remember that with equal gusto they would drink his blood. “Cursed is he that trusteth in man.”

“I am shut up and cannot come forth…”  He was a prisoner in his room, and felt like a leper in the lazarretto, or a condemned criminal in his cell. His mind, too, was bound as with fetters of iron; he felt no liberty of hope, he could take no flights of joy. When God shuts friends out, and shuts us in to pine away alone, it is no wonder if we water our couch with tears.”

Psalm 88 is primarily a desparate cry for help from a suffering soul.  I cannot leave this post without a note of hope. By the amazing divine grace of God,  you and I can be Christlike in our friendships. We can be friends who love at all times. We can be faithful to pray and encourage one another, for our old man has been put to death in Christ’s death. BUT, it will take recognition of our natural tendency to be fickle and unfaithful, and true repentance, and putting off of the old man. We must “work out our own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in us to will and to do of His good pleasure.”   Another year, another breath, and another opportunity to grow is presented to us!

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