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God Moves in a Mysterious Way
Dn. Gideon Loh
20 April 2020
God moves in a mysterious way, his wonders to perform;
he plants his footsteps in the sea, and rides upon the storm.
Deep in unfathomable mines, of never-failing skill;
he fashions up his bright designs, and works his sovereign will.
Ye fearful saints fresh courage take, the clouds that you much dread,
are big with mercy and will 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.
- William Cowper
Born in 1731, William Cowper struggled much in life with depression. Like a birthmark, despair accompanied him since he breathed that first breath. He lost his mother when he was 6 years old, was bullied in school, refused a marriage with his cousin Theodora and a job oral examination almost drove him crazy, literally. He attempted suicide on several occasions but God’s grace would stop him from these foolish acts and His will would save him in 1764 when he was in an Asylum. His friendship with John Newton later in life got him involved in hymn writing and a church hymnal project. John Newton wrote a total of 208 hymns and Cowper did 68.
One of the most encouraging things I read was that Cowper remained convinced of God’s sovereignty and grace even if at times he had a hard time believing that he was a beneficiary of them. Though his life was ‘one long accumulation of pain’ (Piper), Cowper trusted in God’s wisdom, not flawlessly, but faithfully.
This hymn, filled with the immutable truth of God’s ‘higher-than-the-earth’ wisdom (Isa 55:9), death-and-grave-defeating’ power (1 Cor 15:55-57) and ‘He-is-His-own-interpreter’ sovereignty (Proverbs 16:33, Phil 2:13), must circuit-break the excess current from an overload of melancholy and self-pity which may be present in our heart’s circuit today. God who moves with a never-failing skill to work His sovereign will is the intended ‘power source’ to keep our hearts glowing with hope, joy and purpose amid the impedances of disruptions, discomforts and doubts.
Today, like the first light in the morning, let God’s mysterious and sovereign way dawn on our fearful hearts. Let the warmth of God’s sweet purpose steady our anxious hearts. Yes, we can all take fresh courage to abide in Christ because one day, we will know that this is worth it all. One day we willl understand it all (John 13:7, Rom 8:28).
Dn. Gideon Loh