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  • Dr. Roger D Duke

“God Moves in a Mysterious Way”: A Depressed Soul Longing for God!



“God Moves in a Mysterious Way”

The Story Behind the Hymn


This hymn is usually misquoted when used in popular parlance. Most people say, “God moves in mysterious ways!” But the original poem and hymn it became declares God only has one “Mysterious Way.” And this is known only to Him and is hidden from us mortals.


Consider the Scripture when it declares in Deuteronomy 29: 29:


“The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever, that we many do all the words of this Law” (KJV).


This is seen again, in the New Testament where Paul declares in Romans 8: 28:


“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (KJV).


“God Moves in a Mysterious Way” is one of the most beloved hymns for His people going through trials and temptations they are not able to understand. It was originally a poem entitled “Light Shining Out of Darkness.” Cowper wrote it in 1773. It seems to be a somewhat biographical work, for he was plagued with depressive illness all his life. And he spent time in a mental institution.


The poem was first published by Rev. John Newton, in his Twenty-six Letters on Religious Subjects volume. Later in 1774 hymns were added. (Newton wrote “Amazing Grace.”) “The poem, the last hymn text that Cowper wrote, was written following his attempted suicide while living at Olney.”[1] While at Olney, Newton was his close neighbor, confidant, and pastor. He was also much help to him personally in his depression and spiritual journey.

Verse One:


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


Verse Two:


Deep in unfathomable mines

Of never failing skill He treasures up His bright designs And works His sov’reign will.


Verse Three:


Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take; The clouds ye so much dread Are big with mercy and shall break In blessings on your head.


Verse Four:


Judge not the Lord by feeble sense, But trust Him for His grace; Behind a frowning providence He hides a smiling face.


Verse Five:


His purposes will ripen fast, Unfolding every hour; The bud may have a bitter taste, But sweet will be the flow’r.


Verse Six.


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


Lyrics Internet Source: https://library.timelesstruths.org/music/God_Moves_in_a_Mysterious_Way/

[1] Internet sources consulted: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God_Moves_in_a_Mysterious_Way and https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/god-moves-in-a-mysterious-way/

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