Last Saturday my son wanted to go to Game Trader, a store that is about 12 miles from our house. He often wants to go to Game Trader on Saturdays because he is, in his own words, a retro-gaming geek. Anyway, I agreed to take him and his best friend, and his friend’s mom (who is my friend) came along too.
The good thing about Game Trader is that it is in a strip mall that has both a Starbucks and a Powell’s Books. If you’re not from Portland, Oregon you might not be familiar with Powell’s, but for locals it is our very own homegrown new and used bookstore. The main location in downtown Portland is called Powell’s City of Books, and you need a map to find your way around it. The store next to Game Trader isn’t quite as big, but still fun to go in, especially because of all the old books and sale tables. When we go I always say, “I’m not going to get a book this time.” But I almost always do.
Last Saturday I purchased a wonderful find – a used book called “Invisible Light: Poems about God” – for only $4.50. And it is in excellent condition. It is a collection of poems by various poets, some well known and some not so well known, as well as a few Psalms and other pieces of poetic scripture. I noticed in the table of contents that there were two poems by William Cowper, who I first heard of when reading “When the Darkness Will Not Lift” by John Piper. (See my book review of that book here).
Both of Cowper’s poems were so beautiful; made me wonder why I even try to write poetry. (But I do know my poetry is getting better, and reading poems like Cowper’s just makes me want to learn more about poetry and get better at writing it).
I decided that for my Thankful Thursday post, instead of writing my own poem, I want to share one of Cowper’s. This particular poem/hymn was inspired by Isaiah 40:15-20. I am thankful for the poetry Cowper wrote, and for the witness that he provides of the truth that God uses the broken for wonderful things. You see, Cowper suffered from recurrent bouts of depression and severe mental illness. Nonetheless, he was able to write some truly inspiring poetry and hymns to glorify God.
The Future Peace and Glory of the Church
by William Cowper
Hear what the Lord hath spoken:-
O my people, faint and few;
Comfortless, afflicted, broken,
Fair abodes I build for you:
Thorns of heart-felt tribulation
Shall no more perplex your ways;
You shall name your walls, Salvation,
And your gates shall all be Praise.
There, like streams that feed the garden,
Pleasures, without end, shall flow;
For the LORD, your faith rewarding,
All his bounty shall bestow:
Still in undisturb’d possession,
Peace and righteousness shall reign;
Never shall you feel oppression,
Hear the voice of war again.
You no more your suns descending,
Waning moons no more shall see;
But, your griefs for ever ending,
Find eternal noon in me:
God shall rise, and shining o’er ye,
Change to day the gloom of night;
He, the LORD, shall be your glory,
God, your everlasting light.
Hymn No. 10 of The Olney Hymns
15 Behold, the nations are as a drop in a bucket,
And are counted as the small dust on the scales;
Look, He lifts up the isles as a very little thing.
16 And Lebanon is not sufficient to burn,
Nor its beasts sufficient for a burnt offering.
17 All nations before Him are as nothing,
And they are counted by Him less than nothing and worthless.
18 To whom then will you liken God?
Or what likeness will you compare to Him?
19 The workman molds an image,
The goldsmith overspreads it with gold,
And the silversmith casts silver chains.
20 Whoever is too impoverished for such a contribution
Chooses a tree that will not rot;
He seeks for himself a skillful workman
To prepare a carved image that will not totter.
Isaiah 40:15-20 (NKJV).