the clouds you dread

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You fearful saints, new courage take,
The clouds which you now dread
Are big with mercy, and will break
In blessings on your head.

William Cowper has continually been such an encouragement to me.  He suffered during his life from extreme depression and despair and wrote much poetry describing that feeling, such as…

I hear, but seem to hear in vain,
Insensible as steel;
If ought is felt, ’tis only pain,
To find I cannot feel.

Yet I find great comfort in knowing God faithfully sustained him.  I spent several hours on Sunday reading through each of the poems he wrote for Olney Hymns, a collaborative hymnwriting effort with John Newton, his dear friend.

How encouraged I am by this man’s faith, and even more by his faithful God.  Though his emotions were often clouded by his circumstances and feelings, it is obvious by his poetry, that his heart and mind were ultimately controlled by his desire to know his God, the One who controlled the waves and storms. 

The saints should never be dismayed,
Nor sink in hopeless fear;
For when they least expect his aid,
The Savior will appear.

I made a horrible mistake at work this week.  It happened on Monday and the actual effect of it is only beginning to be understood today.   Hundreds of processes are affected, shipping schedules are having to be changed, vessels are having to be brought into port earlier than planned, production may end up stopped due to a lack of parts… its a worst case scenario.  And my name’s all over it.  My error in calculation caused it.  And my lack of a clear understanding of how my calculation affected other processes only made it worse.  And now everyone else is having to scramble to fix it.   As I was talking with my boss this morning we were trying to find a “silver lining” in the cloud…  we quickly realized that the silver lining (if its there) is so tarnished its black. 

Immediately my mind went to this song by William Cowper… the clouds I dread.  I dread the cloud of making a mistake so big it could cost me my job.  I dread the cloud of knowing others have to fix my mistakes and suffer the consequences of it and there’s nothing I can do now to fix it.  I dread the meetings that are coming to discuss how to not have this happen again. 

but as I was dreading all of those, God reminded me that the clouds I dread, these big black silver lined clouds, even those are dripping with mercy.  When they break it will be a flood of mercy for me.  it might also be a flood I don’t like… a flood of losing my job or at best having someone look over my shoulder for months to make sure it doesn’t happen again.  but its a flood from a God who can redeem my mistakes…

Fierce passions discompose the mind,
As tempests vex the sea;
But calm content and peace we find,
When, LORD, we turn to thee
.…

’Tis I appoint thy daily lot,
And I do all things well:
Thou soon shalt leave this wretched spot,
And rise with me to dwell.

 In life my grace shall strength supply,
Proportioned to thy day;
At death thou still shalt find me nigh,
To wipe thy tears away.”

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6 responses »

  1. I’m currently reading a book by one of the Puritans – Thomas Brooks’ “Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices” (light reading :)) I was reading it earlier today and came across this quote from Brooks. I hope it encourages you :)

    “Bear up sweetly, O precious soul! your storm shall end in a calm, and your dark night in a sunshine day! Your mourning shall be turned into rejoicing, and the waters of consolation shall be sweeter and higher in your soul than ever! The mercy is surely yours—but the time of giving it is the Lord’s. Wait but a little, and you shall find the Lord comforting you on every side.”

  2. wow joe, thank you. that was more encouraging than i can explain. i’ve read that book before and really enjoy thomas brooks as well. :) thanks again!

  3. Oh my goodness, Emily, you’re a Cowper fan too?!! This is just too wild; I feel like I’m meeting my reflection in the mirror! I love Cowper and especially the Onley Hymns. If you haven’t stumbled across them yet, you can read the Olney Hymns at CCEL.org. One of my life goals is to write music to a bunch of Cowper/Newton’s hymns (the music itself has been lost to antiquity) so that the lyrics of these songs can come back into the church today. I’m so happy to meet you!! :D

    Excitedly,
    Sarah Bosse

  4. I just read this post again and saw your reference to the Olney Hymns. Oops! Well, welcome to the Olney club! (Ha! – I even misspelled it in my previous comment!) …the club for the imperfect seeking mercy from a gracious God.

    Sarah

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