William Cowper, a 19th-century English poet and hymnwriter, struggled with recurring bouts of depression throughout his life. Perhaps that’s why his hymns still touch us deeply during times when our life seems to be spinning out of control and we desperately want to trust God.
One of Cowper’s best-known hymns, “God Moves In A Mysterious Way,” contains these encouraging words:
Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy, and shall break
In blessings on your head.
We often imagine that the triumphal songs of faith were penned by people who had already overcome their struggles. But the Bible’s songbook—the Psalms—reminds us that the anguished cries of “How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me?” sometimes occur in almost the same breath as “My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because He has dealt bountifully with me” (Ps. 13:1,5-6).
In every struggle—mental, physical, emotional, or spiritual—our challenge is to move from the fear of being overwhelmed to the confidence that God has overcome. Cowper didn’t find it easy, but he always found that God was greater than he had ever imagined.
Facing clouds today? Take courage! Your greatest praise to God may be sung in the darkest days of your life.
Great praise often grows out of great pain.