The Problem of Feeling Good

I am reckoned as one in the tomb:
I have reached the end of my strength,
like one alone among the dead;
like the slain lying in their graves.

Friday night compline is a little gruesome. That’s only fitting, of course, that’s what Friday’s for, and it’s often helpful too. It’s been a long time, but I’ve felt what the Psalmist records here. At times like that, it’s good to know that your heartache is, so to speak, officially sanctioned.

On the other hand, how do you pray a Psalm like #88 when you feel great? The odd thing about depression is that, when it’s at its peak, you can’t imagine ever feeling any other way; but when it’s gone, you can’t even call up what it felt like. These past few weeks I’ve felt almost uninterruptedly peaceful and happy. It’s pretty nice! I could get used to this.

And I discovered something useful. You can say a Psalm like an intercessory prayer. No, I don’t feel like I’m lying dead in a grave somewhere, forgotten by God and man. But I know people who do, or have, or will. I can say the Psalm as if I’m them. Deeply depressed people sometimes don’t even have the strength to cry out, so I can do it for them. It’s nice to spend a Psalm on somebody besides myself.

3 Comments on “The Problem of Feeling Good”

  1. Ron says:

    Hi Steve, I was going through the archives when I found this. The beauty of the praying the Liturgy of the Hours is that we are praying with the entire Church. There will be times when we pray a psalm of lament when we feel great, and there will be times when we pray of psalm of rejoicing when we feel anything but joyful. I always find that this perspective helps bring me out of my little world and aware that there are people out there besides myself. But of course you know that!

  2. George says:

    I had never considered praying the Psalms as an intercessory prayer. Thank you for the consideration! A very beautiful way of praying the Psalms indeed.

  3. Ian says:

    The best mindset with which to pray Psalm 88 – given that it’s on Friday night – is in the very heart of Christ Himself, languishing in the tomb for our sins. He went forth from Heaven to assume our flesh and to redeem us, healing us by His glorious death and holy resurrection. In this shadowy rest of Friday night and throughout Saturday, we enter the most amazing mystery of all: Christ’s humanity, God’s humanity.

    Thank you, Steve.

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