A Thanksgiving poem: Sometimes a Light Surprises

William Cowper’s testimony is well known. He was a poet who fought depression much of his life. He bounced from suicidal despair to moments of joy in the Lord, only to be yanked back into the valley. His life was the embodiment of the Psalm 42–which is to say he was constantly fighting to keep his spiritual head above the waters of destructive depression.

Despite this constant battle (or perhaps because of it), Cowper’s theology was built on the basic promise that God works trials for his glory and our joy. That theme is a constant refrain in his poems, and no where is it more clear than in my favorite of his works–Sometimes a Light Surprises.

If you are going through a period of spiritual darkness this Thanksgiving, let the truth of Cowper’s poem encourage you to thank God for your trial, knowing that when you least expect, God may astonish you with his truth: 

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.

Source: Jesse Johnson | The Cripplegate