Cowper’s life compels me to interpret life differently than I previously have. Two things emerge in my mind as I struggle with it. First, there are wounds, there are trials, there are agonies in this fallen world that cannot be described with words or contained within concepts. They stretch and bend and even break our ability to understand. They draw us into the realm of extremity, to the utter brink. But second, and without at all downplaying the reality of the first point, God can heal the deepest wounds and redeem the most broken life. I don’t believe that Cowper’s despair is the sum and total of his life. In his letters, and much more in his poetry and hymns, another strand of thought emerges, one of hope, patience, and faith.