Remembering William Cowper: Don’t trust the certainties of despair

The life of William Cowper is one that causes you to give pause and wonder. On this day in 1800 he passed on from a life filled with pain and darkness. For a man who wrote many inspiring hymns and poems, he suffered much in his life. He found Christ in his 30s, yet suffered for decades with a kind of debilitating depression that left him paralyzed with doubt. Many times he tried to take his own life.

In his message at the Bethlehem Pastors Conference in 1992, John Piper said that one of the lessons learned from the life of William Cowper is that we must “all fortify ourselves against the dark hours of depression by cultivating a deep distrust of the certainties of despair. Despair is relentless in the certainties of his pessimism. But we have seen that Cowper is not consistent. Some years after his absolute statements of being cut off from God, he is again expressing some hope in being heard. His certainties were not sureties. So it will always be with the deceptions of darkness. Let us now, while we have the light, cultivate distrust of the certainties of despair.”

The video below (click to view it) is from Mars Hill Church in their series The Rebels Guide to Joy entitled “The Rebels Guide to Joy in Loneliness.” Let us not abandon those around us who are saved but struggle mightily against the darkness.


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