William Cowper is one of those saints who doesn’t fit into a tidy box. His friend, John Newton, understood this but was still perplexed by the mans case. He didn’t understand how someone so filled with grace, and whose salvation was obvious to others, could live in such darkness and doubt.
When Cowper died and Newton began reflecting on his life he had this to say to Hannah More:
He lived far above the common standard [of comfort] for about ten years; and for twenty-seven years afterwards he knew not one peaceful day. May it remind me likewise of the precarious tenure by which we hold all our desirables. A slight alteration in the nervous system may make us a burden and a terror to ourselves and our friends.
I’ve got to be honest this is scary. I struggle with bouts of darkness and depression. So do some people in my life that I dearly love. This quote scares me because I know that in one sense nothing is off limits. God could allow me to go mad—overtaken with despair—and do all of this for His glory (and somehow my good).
In my arrogant humanity I want to believe that nothing like this could befall me or the ones that I love. Doctors can give us medicine, counselors can give us treatment. This isn’t 1800 and we’ve come long enough that things like this no longer need to happen.
My over-spiritualized confidence responds that so long as I continue faithful in the gospel—repenting and believing, nothing like this will befall me or those I love. I’m not so sure. That sounds more like Job’s friends than it does the reality of the Bible.
I believe that God is passionate about doing us good. I also believe that He is passionate about spreading His glory. I don’t believe those two are combatants. But I do believe that our experience of His “doing us good” might be held for another age and in the New Jerusalem instead of this fallen world.
So, I’m wrestling a little. I’m thinking very clearly today. The sun is shining. Darkness feels far off. But I know better. I know that in one moment I could be clinging to Christ in the midst of darkness instead of light. The darkness has always broke. Someday it might not.
The question for me today is this. Do I believe this along with Newton:
“But we are sure that He is rich enough, and that eternity is long enough to make them abundant amends for whatever his infinite wisdom may see meet to call them to, for promoting his glory in the end…”
God is always good. At times we see His smile as bright as the noon-day sun. At other times “He hides his smiling face behind a frowning providence”. For some they might not see that smile again until the see Him face to face. Will I trust Him in the light and in the darkness?
He will make the darkness light. May He give us grace to hold on until all things are made well again.
Originally posted: here