Light Shining Out of Darkness…by Brian Gates

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For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:6

One of my favorites poems is “Light Shining Out of Darkness”, written in 1773 by William Cowper (see below). He is considered one of the great poets of the church. You might recognize the hymn version of this poem by its more familiar title “God Moves in a Mysterious Way”. It is a great encouragement, beautifully reminding us that, though we might not see the sovereign hand of God working when darkness is upon us, the foreboding clouds will break, and the light of Christ will shine forth.

William Cowper knew of what he wrote. He experienced severe and debilitating bouts of melancholy (i.e., depression) throughout his life, even to the point of attempts at suicide and eventually being committed to an insane asylum where, at last, the radiant beam of the Gospel pierced his raging storm, and he saw, for the first time, the sufficiency of Christ.

It pleased the Lord to bring him John Newton (the writer of “Amazing Grace”) as a pastor and an unwavering friend. It was Newton that continued to point him to the excellencies of Christ when gloomy despair would rise, and it was Newton that pushed Cowper to use his gift for poetry/hymns.

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

Only the pure light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ can (and does) pierce the darkest soul. And that which it illuminates is transformed! And as this glorious light continues to shine on us, we are to walk as children of light (Ephesians 5:8)

In those times of weariness, personal despair, or tragedy that we all experience (and perhaps more acutely in these recent times of unrest and strife), when the things of this life seem bleak and dim, may we rest in knowing that He is our Light. And while we may not understand all His purposes in our trials, take comfort that He is sovereign over the dark clouds- a brighter day comes.

And may we follow the example of John Newton in being that steadfast friend that encourages others to lift their eyes and look at Him.

Brian Gates

Light Shining Out of Darkness

By William Cowper

God moves in a mysterious way,

   His wonders to perform;

He plants his footsteps in the sea,

   And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines

   Of never-failing skill,

He treasures up his bright designs,

   And works his sov’reign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take,

   The clouds ye so much dread

Are big with mercy, and shall break

   In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,

   But trust him for his grace;

Behind a frowning providence

   He hides a smiling face.


His purposes will ripen fast,

   Unfolding ev’ry hour;

The bud may have a bitter taste,

   But sweet will be the flow’r.

Blind unbelief is sure to err,

   And scan his work in vain;

God is his own interpreter,

   And he will make it plain.

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