Passion Week Devotional – Monday, April 6, 2020

Passion Week Devotional

Monday, April 6, 2020

One of my favorite Hymns is “God Moves in a Mysterious Way” written by William Cowper (Pronounced Cooper). It is called one of the Olney Hymns and is written in a time of great friendship between John Newton (famous Minister and Hymn writer, of “Amazing Grace”) and Cowper. Newton and Cowper lived in the Village of Olney, England, and were backdoor neighbors. To be painfully honest about Cowper, he was a brilliant scholar and lover of Jesus, but he also struggled with depression, and not just depression, but sometimes severe depression. He was known in English literary circles for his brilliance, but his place of comfort and true acceptance was in the church.

This is the last hymn that he wrote and it is after a serious time of personal difficulty. It has become a favorite of many as they face times of trial and difficulty. A good friend sent this to me in a letter when Renee was diagnosed with cancer and we were in a very difficult time of our lives. There was no where to look but up. I remember in Chapel at Seminary a few weeks later, that we sang this and I stood unable to mouth the words, painfully numb to the chaos that was my new existence. I hated the song, because I hated the difficulty that I was facing. Not knowing that the line from the hymn was true; “the clouds you so much dread are big with mercy, and shall break in blessings on your head.”

In pain and fear we look around us at all the problems, however, we are called to look up. In this Hymn, Cowper reminds us that God is completely in control. He uses the word, “providence” to describe the reality that God is really there and is working out his purposes and that in the end, will be glorious. Often, we only want to trust the Lord for his hand, meaning, “What he can gives us to make us happy” but we are called to trust him for his “providence” to know him and to draw near to him in all of his purposes.

A little over a year ago, the same friend who sent this hymn to me was in a desperate place, everything normal in his life was upside down. I sat with him and read this hymn and we prayed. He had forgotten that he had given this to me at a very difficult time in my life. We both marveled at how good God is to his children, even in times of distress, we are not abandoned.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

God Moves In A Mysterious Way

William Cowper, 1774

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

Deep in unsearchable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs,
And works His sovereign wil.l

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds you so much dread
Are big with mercy, and shall break
In blessings, in blessings
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.

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