Favorite Hymns - God Moves in a Mysterious Way
This particular hymn, "God Moves in a Mysterious Way", was written by William Cowper (1731-1800). Cowper's best known hymn is "There is a Fountain" which is still sung occasionally, though it too seems to be fading.
William Cowper was a close associate of John Newton, the author of perhaps the best known of all hymns, "Amazing Grace". In fact, Newton preached Cowper's funeral.
Cowper was a beloved poet in his day, and after his death Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote "Cowper's Grave" about his struggles. Cowper was a man who wrestled with depression and other mental maladies in his life, attempting suicide on more than one occasion. In fact, there is a story that this hymn comes out of one of those episodes (you can read about it on the cyberhymnal page I linked to above). John Piper chose Cowper as the subject of his 1992 biographical message at the Desiring God Pastor's Conference. Cowper was also featured in "The Hidden Smile of God" by Piper.
This hymn means much to me because it proclaims God's sovereignty and purpose in trials we cannot understand. I had latched onto this hymn before several tragedies struck my family in 2000 and 2001, and it helped me through those times. Line's like, "The bud may have a bitter taste, but sweet will be the flower" became a reminder that God was still at work, even if I did not understand what He was doing. This is a song from a man who walked darker streets than most of us do. But in that darkness he found solace in the character of God. Oh that we too would find strength and peace in knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who better than us all knows the bitter taste of the bud, and the sweetness of the flower.
God Moves in a Mysterious Way
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.