Poetry of the Broken

Last Saturday I purchased a wonderful find at Powell’s Books (Portland, Oregon’s own homegrown new and used bookstore) – 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 want to share one of Cowper’s poems with the readers at Broken Believers. I do so because it is a great reminder that even when we think we are too lost and broken to be of any use to God, even then God can do the impossible. He can take a broken vessel and cause great light and wonder pour from its cracks. I am thankful for the poetry Cowper wrote, and for the witness that he provides of the truth that God uses the broken for astonishing things.

William Cowper, English poet and hymnodist
(1731-1800)

You see, Cowper suffered from recurrent bouts of depression and severe mental illness. At times he was convinced that he was damned for all eternity, and that he was a lost soul. Nonetheless, he was able to write some truly inspiring poetry and hymns to glorify God. This particular poem will cause the “Comfortless, broken, afflicted to delight in the joy of a life to come where all pain and sorrow will cease, and the glory of Jesus will be all we need.”

If you are struggling, feeling like you can never be of any use to God, take heart. God is in the business of using His power and wisdom in tandem with the broken believer to accomplish great things.

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

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Peace, Linda K.

You can find Linda’s own blog at http://lindakruschke.wordpress.com/

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‘Wait for the Finals,’ [Spurgeon]

I have gained much from reading Spurgeon over the years. I read this this morning, and I could hear the Holy Spirit speaking into my soul. I need more of this “peaceful perseverance” working in me.
Eric Liddell
Eric Liddell, 1902-1945, Winner of Gold Medal at 1924 Olympics in Paris

From Charle Spurgeon’s “Faith’s Checkbook”
Wait for the Finals

“Gad, a troop shall overcome him: but he shall overcome at the last.”

Genesis 49:19, KJV

“Gad will be attacked by marauding bands, but he will attack them when they retreat.”

NLT

Some of us have been like the tribe of Gad. Our adversaries for a while were too many for us; they came upon us like a troop. Yes, and for the moment they overcame us; and they exulted greatly because of their temporary victory. Thus they only proved the first part of the family heritage to be really ours, for Christ’s people, like Dan, shall have a troop overcoming them.

This being overcome is very painful, and we should have despaired if we had not by faith believed the second line of our father’s benediction, “He shall overcome at the last.” “All’s well that ends well,” said the world’s poet; and he spoke the truth. A war is to be judged, not by first success or defeats, but by that which happens “at the last.” The Lord will give to truth and righteousness victory “at the last”; and, as Mr. Bunyan says, that means forever, for nothing can come after the last.

What we need is patient perseverance in well-doing, calm confidence in our glorious Captain. Christ, our Lord Jesus, would teach us His holy art of setting the face like a flint to go through with work or suffering till we can say, “It is finished.” Hallelujah. Victory! Victory! We believe the promise. “He shall overcome at the last.”

–C.H. Spurgeon

(A Brokenbelievers favorite.)

 

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From the Faith’s Checkbook Mobile Devotional Android app – http://www.LookingUpwardApps.com/fcb

Charles Spurgeon’s Bio on Wikipedia- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Spurgeon

The Day Jesus Sang

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“Then they sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives.” 

Matt. 26:30

This is the only place in scripture where it was recorded that Jesus sang.  There is no question that He sang on other occasions, we just don’t know the specifics.  The hymn on the way to the Mount would’ve been from the Book of Psalms, and most likely one of the Psalms of Ascent that would of coincided with that particular date. These hymns were known as the Hallel Psalms (meaning “Praise” psalms), and consisted of Psalms 113-118.

Jesus ‘singing’ tells us a lot of His frame of mind while heading for His death in just a few hours.  When a man is about to be executed at a definite place and time its unlikely that you will find him to be musically inclined.  Yet Jesus joined His brothers in singing to the Glory of God. He sings from darknesses depth.

“But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way.”

John 4:23, NLT

The search in on!  The Father looks into our hearts to find something special.  Is it there?  Will He choose you?  Let’s not foolishly think that because you play the piano or the guitar you’ll be a “shoe-in.”  “Spirit and truth” is the awareness needed.  Being ‘filled with the Spirit’ is the only thing that is really necessary.

“Be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts.”

Ephesians 5:19, NLT

An insincere heart can’t worship sincerely.

God is looking for worship that’s sincere and strong.  If we are not “spirit and truth” worshippers we can’t fake it. It is malfunctioning. But we can commence to begin.  We can start by preparing our hearts.  Putting them under the spigot of the spirit and of truth.  Let them soak like a sponge in God’s grace.  Things that are dry, will saturate themselves in God.

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A Mighty Fortress, Understood

martin_luther2 (1)Martin’s Depression

The hymn A Mighty Fortress Is Our God gloriously celebrates God’s power. It was penned by the great 16th-century reformer Martin Luther, who believed God’s power could help believers overcome great difficulties — even depression. Given his pastoral heart, he sought to bring spiritual counsel to struggling souls. His compassion for those souls shines in numerous places, including his sermons, lectures, Bible commentaries and ‘table talks’. In addition, he devoted many letters to counseling troubled folk.

Luther’s writings reveal his knowledge of various emotional difficulties. For example, in August 1536 he interceded for a woman named Mrs. Kreuzbinder, whom he deemed insane. He described her as being “accustomed to rage” and sometimes angrily chasing her neighbor with a spear.

In addition, Luther’s wife, Kate, struggled with pervasive and persistent worry indicative of generalized anxiety disorder. Prince Joachim of Anhalt, to whom Luther often wrote, exhibited signs of obsessive-compulsive disorder, and he believed he had betrayed and crucified Christ. Conrad Cordatus, a pastor and frequent guest at Luther’s table, exhibited signs of hypochondriasis, a disorder involving preoccupation with fears of having a serious disease.

Besides observing mental difficulties in others, Luther had a compelling reason to affirm their reality. Luther himself endured many instances of depression. He described the experience in varied terms: melancholy, heaviness, depression, dejection of spirit; downcast, sad, downhearted. He suffered in this area for much of his life and often revealed these struggles in his works. Evidently he did not think it a shameful problem to be hidden.

Satan as the “accuser of the brethren,” causes Christians to dwell on past sins. Such thoughts induce melancholy and despair. Concerning a friend’s depressive thoughts, Luther wrote, “Know that the devil is tormenting you with them, and that they are not your thoughts but the cursed devil’s, who cannot bear to see us have joyful thoughts.”   Luther recognized a spiritual truth about depression. One can expect Satan’s persistence until faith is destroyed, but in the midst of depression God is with us. He never leaves us alone. In the midst of trouble He draws near to us.

Sometimes the invisible God draws near through visible people, and they become the bearers of God’s comforting and strengthening words to troubled souls.  What’s more, God seeks to assure us of His love and esteem. And through His Word, He counters Satan’s lies with His truth.

Some Martin Luther Quotes

Luther's Seal
Luther’s Seal

“All who call on God in true faith, earnestly from the heart, will certainly be heard, and will receive what they have asked and desired.”

“Faith is a living and unshakable confidence, a belief in the grace of God so assured that a man would die a thousand deaths for its sake.”

“Christ took our sins and the sins of the whole world as well as the Father’s wrath on his shoulders, and he has drowned them both in himself so that we are thereby reconciled to God and become completely righteous.”

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“A Mighty Fortress is Our God,” by Luther

1. A mighty fortress is our God,
a bulwark never failing;
our helper he amid the flood
of mortal ills prevailing. 
For still our ancient foe
doth seek to work us woe;
his craft and power are great,
and armed with cruel hate, on earth is not his equal.  

2. Did we in our own strength confide,
our striving would be losing,
were not the right man on our side,
the man of God’s own choosing.
Dost ask who that may be? 
Christ Jesus, it is he;
Lord Sabaoth, his name,
from age to age the same,
and he must win the battle.  

3. And though this world, with devils filled,
should threaten to undo us,
we will not fear, for God hath willed
his truth to triumph through us. 
The Prince of Darkness grim,
we tremble not for him;
his rage we can endure,
for lo, his doom is sure;
one little word shall fell him. 

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ybic, Bryan

Quotes from, http://christian-quotes.ochristian.com/