Why Do We Believe That ‘God Moves In A Mysterious Way’?

William Cowper’s hymn “God Moves in a Mysterious Way” is a song for every Christian who finds themselves in doubt, feeling abandoned, and bereft of hope. It is also a statement of faith in the face of uncertainty -  one that we trust to carry us through all the crises we face.

Let’s examine the phrase in greater detail.

Stories of God turning problem after problem and situation after situation upside-down can be found in the Bible and in testimonies of Christians throughout the ages - and he does it in the most unexpected and inexplicable ways.

God’s methods are far beyond what the human mind can understand, and often leave us totally bewildered. 

One of the best examples of this is the life of Joseph, the eleventh son of Jacob.

Genesis 41:38 - 57 tells us about Joseph’s ascension to power after he successfully interpreted the Pharaoh’s dreams and gave him good counsel. For this, he was put in charge of storing up food during the years of plenty and selling it during the years of famine.

When the famine struck, Jacob sent ten of his sons to Egypt to buy grain. Joseph, because of his position as governor of Egypt, was able to save his family from starvation.

But why was he even there in the first place? 

In Genesis 37:28, we learn that twenty years earlier, Joseph’s brothers sold him as a slave to the Ishmaelites who brought him to Egypt. Had he been given a choice in this situation, he would have obviously chosen his freedom over this. Years later, when accused of a crime he did not commit, had he been given the choice to not be imprisoned, he would have taken it.

But it is from these very undesirable situations that Joseph was able to rise up and reach his eventual post and save his family.

This irony makes it easy for us to discern God’s paradoxical movement through all of Joseph’s life. Had Joseph not been governor over Egypt, he would have never moved his family there, and there would be no story of Moses and no exodus from Egypt four hundred years later.

In Genesis 50:20, Joseph says to his brothers, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.”

By this statement, Joseph summarizes the events of his life - beginning with the wrong done to him by his brothers and ending with his recognition that it was all a part of God’s plan to rescue His people.

In Isaiah 46:10–11, God “declares the end from the beginning”, and we can be sure that every event in the life of a believer serves God’s ultimate plan.

Life is full of hurt and pain. Relationships end. Illnesses strike. Plans fail. At times like these, it’s easy to doubt God’s ways, and question if he still cares for us. Though the way God weaves remarkable events through our lives may seem illogical at first, we as Christians, “walk by faith, not by sight”. 2 Corinthians 5:7

As proven time and again, no matter how difficult the circumstance, through his astonishing methods, in his time, God always triumphs. 

All he expects of us as his children is to put our faith in him, even when the odds seem impossible, to trust in his plan for us, to surrender our lives as Jesus did, and to say to him, unhesitatingly, “Thy will be done.”

For the Lord says, “I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it.” Isaiah 14:24

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