“Sometimes A Light Surprises”

“But for you who fear My name,
the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings.”

Malachi 4:2a

If you open any hymnal, you will probably find songs with lyrics written by William Cowper. Two of his best known poems are “There Is A Fountain Filled With Blood” and “God Moves In A Mysterious Way.” Cowper lived from 1731–1800 and suffered terribly throughout his life from debilitating depression. He became close friends with converted slave trader John Newton who as his curate watched over Cowper, encouraging him to write hymns. They collaborated on Olney Hymns which includes Newton’s “Amazing Grace.” Newton said of Cowper,

“Of all the men I ever heard pray, no one equaled Mr. Cowper. He loved the poor. He often visited them in their cottages, conversed with them in the most condescending [obliging] manner, sympathized with them, counseled and comforted them in their distresses; and those who were seriously disposed were often cheered and animated by his prayers!”1

I found a poem of Cowper that is new to me. It contains numerous Scripture references, but I wanted to share it with you because the last stanza is from Habakkuk 3. Remember these words were written by a man who knew deep personal distress.

“Sometimes a light surprises the Christian while he sings;
It is the Lord, who rises with healing in His wings:
When comforts are declining, He grants the soul again
A season of clear shining, to cheer it after rain.

“In holy contemplation we sweetly then pursue
The theme of God’s salvation, and find it ever new.
Set free from present sorrow, we cheerfully can say,
Let the unknown tomorrow bring with it what it may.

“It can bring with it nothing but He will bear us through;
Who gives the lilies clothing will clothe His people, too;
Beneath the spreading heavens, no creature but is fed;
And He Who feeds the ravens will give His children bread.

“Though vine nor fig tree neither their wonted fruit should bear,
Though all the field should wither, nor flocks nor herds be there;
Yet God the same abiding, His praise shall tune my voice,
For while in Him confiding, I cannot but rejoice.”

May God bless you, comfort you and grant you a season of clear shining!

1William Cowper,” RUF Hymnbook Online Hymn Resource, igracemusic.com

Original content: Copyright ©2011 Iwana Carpenter

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