"Why must holy places be dark places?" -C. S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces
William Cowper lived a life to study. He wrote "God Moves in a Mysterious Way" and "Sometimes a Light Suprises." Some men's lives are read to know what great heights in faith may be reached (i.e. Paul and Adoniram Judson). Others are examined to know failure and depression are not the marks of a bad saint ( i.e. David Brainerd and William Cowper). Cowper lived a life painfully aware of his own inadequacies in depression, and even attempted suicide. John Newton and William Cowper began writing a hymnal together, but Cowper, due to his crushing depression, was unable to finish all of his half.
C.S. Lewis said we should not present ourselves to God as we should be, but as we truly are. Many times our modern songs tell us what we should feel. Cowper lets us know, we should not only tell God what we think He wants to hear, but admit to God our doubts so He can heal them like in this lesser known hymn/poem:
The Lord will Happiness Divine:
The Lord will happiness divine
On contrite hearts bestow;
Then tell me gracious God, is mine
A contrite heart or no?
I hear, but seem to hear in vain,
Insensible as steel
If aught is felt, tis only pain
To find I cannot feel.
I sometimes think myself inclined
To love Thee, if I could
But often feel another mind,
Averse to all that's good
My best desires are faint and few
I fain would strive for more:
But when I cry, "My strength renew",
Seem weaker than before
Thy saints are comforted, I know,
And love Thy house of prayer;
I therefore go where others go,
But find no comfort there.
Oh make this heart rejoice or ache;
Decide this doubt for me;
And if it be not broken, break,
And heal it, if it be.
Hear this hymn put to song once, in a decent way: here
In this Album
More on William Cowper from John Piper. (MP3)
On Battling Unbelief: Book by Piper