In 1773, William Cowper experienced a nervous breakdown. His mind was telling him that he was condemned to hell for all of eternity. In his mental sickness he thought God was telling him to take his own life so he called a taxi and asked to be taken to the Thames River where he intended to end it all. A thick fog fell about them that evening and the taxi driver drove about lost until he finally stopped to allow Cowper out. When Cowper stepped out of the taxi he found himself standing at his own doorstep. He believed God had sent the fog to spare him and sometime later he wrote the hymn that contains the phrase so often used by Christians today who seek to understand the ways of God: “God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform.”
Daniel 2:22 – “He reveals deep and mysterious things and knows what lies hidden in darkness, though he is surrounded by light.”
Isaiah 55:9 – “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
We as Christians are sometimes required to walk in the darkness. We sometimes move through a fog that obscures what we think should be obvious. What do you do and what thoughts do you have when you don’t understand what God is doing in your life? Do you feel anxiety when you “see through a glass darkly”? (1 Cor. 13:12) Do you think Daniel had any doubts when he looked at the lions pacing about him? Did the Hebrew children feel a tinge of fear when the flames licked at their garments? Did Paul (the greatest missionary who ever lived) feel the shadow of doubt after he had sat for weeks in a prison dungeon prevented from doing what he was best at doing?
Would that the sun might always shine for the follower of Christ? Not so. The clouds often gather. There are times in our journey when we have to navigate through thorn bushes. There are dangerous rivers to cross and craggily mountains to climb. It is sometimes in our darkest hour that our perception of Christ becomes most clear. It is when he dims our sight that we see him most clearly.
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 treasures up His bright designs
And works His sovereign will.
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. – William Cowper