In August 2016 I published “God Moves In Mysterious Ways - No! That’s Not In The Bible”. In that post I identified what may be the origin of to saying as the first stanza of a hymn written by William Cowper of England.
God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.
The hymn was inspired by what Jesus said in:
John 13:7 (NLT)7 Jesus replied, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.”
There is nothing wrong with the words of this hymn. God does work in ways that we don’t understand and that are mysterious to us. God’s ways don’t conform to our human motives or reasoning.
There is also the scripture from Isaiah;
Isaiah 55:8 (NLT)8 “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
However the question that I pose in this post is whether our belief that He works in mysterious ways is a fact or is it a myth?
Let’s go to the Bible, God’s word for the answer.
Editor's Note: The following is excerpts from Is it Fact or Fiction That God Works in Mysterious Ways? by Clarence L. Haynes Jr. Scriptures added by me.
First Let’s Look At God’s Ways
1. His ways are different than yours.
The way God does things, or the way God instructs us to do things, is totally different than how we would do it. Take salvation for instance. For you and I to receive the gift of life, God himself took on human flesh and had to die. I certainly would not have done it that way. I am a father and I love my son. I am not sacrificing his life so that someone else could live. That seems like it goes against the parent code, and this is just one issue. There are so many others in the scriptures.
For example who would tell someone to love the one who is against you and pray for the one who is persecuting you?
Matthew 5:43-44, 46-47 NLT “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that.
Who says if you want to be great or first, you must humble yourself and be a servant to everyone?
Mark 9:35 NLT He sat down, called the twelve disciples over to him, and said, “Whoever wants to be first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else.”
Who tells an army leader you have too many men? You don’t need 32,000 men fighting you only need 300?
Judges 7:2, 7 NLT The Lord said to Gideon, “You have too many warriors with you. If I let all of you fight the Midianites, the Israelites will boast to me that they saved themselves by their own strength. The Lord told Gideon, “With these 300 men I will rescue you and give you victory over the Midianites. Send all the others home.”
Who tells a man with leprosy to go wash himself seven times in the dirty water of the Jordan river to be cleansed and healed?
2 Kings 5:10, 14 NLT But Elisha sent a messenger out to him with this message: “Go and wash yourself seven times in the Jordan River. Then your skin will be restored, and you will be healed of your leprosy.” So Naaman went down to the Jordan River and dipped himself seven times, as the man of God had instructed him. And his skin became as healthy as the skin of a young child, and he was healed!
Who would think that it would take blood, one of the hardest stains to remove, to wash our sins away and make us clean?
1 John 1:7 NLT But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.
None of this is logical and none of this is the way we would do it. That’s because these are not our ways. God’s ways are different than yours and mine
2. His ways are higher than yours.
Not only are God’s ways different, but they are also higher. This means that God thinks at a level far above our thinking. Just consider the fact that he can see the whole picture played out before it even begins.
Isaiah 46:9-10 NLT Remember the things I have done in the past. For I alone am God! I am God, and there is none like me. Only I can tell you the future before it even happens. Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do whatever I wish.
This gives him a great advantage. Imagine how you would react if you knew the outcome before you ever did something? Have you ever watched a movie knowing how it will end? Or watched a football game when you already know the final score? When you know, you think differently about it. There is no anxiety, no worry because you are confident in what is going to happen. In a sense, it elevates your thinking. This is the advantage God has with us.
Using that definition and that understanding, you would probably have to conclude that God works in mysterious ways is a biblical truth and not a myth.
You may not always understand them, but you can always trust them. At the end of the day God’s ways and thoughts towards you are good. God’s plan and purpose for you are good as well. This is what you are trusting in.
For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord . “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
Jeremiah 29:11 NLT Walk in God’s ways and watch him bring to pass this good plan that he has for your life even if sometimes it seems mysterious.
Now That We Know That God’s Working In Mysterious Ways Is A Fact What About Our Ways?
We live in a world today where the prevailing thought is that I am my own person, I can figure it out. I will make my own way. While all of that sounds good (a little bit puffed up as well) there is a reality and truth that is missing. We can’t totally trust our way of thinking. Consider what the Proverbs say:
Proverbs 14:12 NLT There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.
God’s ways may be higher than ours and mysterious so that we don’t always understand them, however we can trust that they are good. There are too many pitfalls that we can fall into when we trust our own ways. The Proverbs remind us that the end is death.
God’s ways are not only higher than ours, they are better than ours. The big struggle we have is whether or not we will embrace them. There is a blessing and a hope that comes from embracing God’s ways. The good news is that the blessing comes even when you don’t understand what God is doing.