Mysterious Ways

Rom 3:25 had a big impact on the writer of the hymn, “Mysterious Ways”.

Romans 3:24—”and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, Romans 3:25 “whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.”

“William Cowper was keenly aware of the truth that God moves in mysterious ways. His life, as John Piper describes it in his biography of Cowper, seems to have been “one long accumulation of pain,” especially mental pain. But this hymn writer trusted by faith–not perfectly, but perseveringly–that in this mysterious and maddening providence, God was working wonders.

The mental pain Cowper struggled with was primarily depression. He had four major battles with it through his life, leading him to attempt suicide on several occasions. He was never successful, however, and God would preserve his life until death by dropsy in 1800, aged 69.

Cowper apparently became a believer in 1764 while in residence at St. Albans Insane Asylum. He happened upon a Bible on a bench in the garden, and God used John 11 and Romans 3:25 to open his eyes to the goodness of Jesus and the sufficiency of his atoning work.

Cowper’s hymn writing came as a result of his friendship with John Newton (Amazing Grace). They became friends in 1767 when Cowper moved to Olney, England to be under Newton’s ministry.

Newton saw Cowper’s bent to melancholy and reclusiveness and drew him into the ministry of visitation as much as he could. They would take long walks together between homes and talk of God and his purposes for the church. Then in 1769 Newton got the idea of collaborating with Cowper on a book of hymns to be sung by their church. He thought it would be good for Cowper’s poetic bent to be engaged.

The hymn “God Moves in a Mysterious Way” is a combination of assertions about God’s goodness, sovereignty and wisdom along with commands to take courage and trust in him. Cowper’s use of the metaphors of storms, mines, smiles, and flowers illustrate this meaning in a timeless way. The hymn is a beautiful expression of the kind of faith that sustained Cowper through long periods of darkness and despair.”  From Challies.com

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.

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 every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.

Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.

Thank you, Lord, for the John Newtons in our lives, people you have led to take encouraging walks, phone calls, texts or a cup of coffee with us.  

3 thoughts on “Mysterious Ways

  1. I also have been on a Grace journey for many years. Grace is not just a doctrine that is taught, but an experience with the Person of Grace, Jesus Christ. “Grace and truth came through Jesus” John 1:17. I want to be a part of receiving these messages.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s