By Clarence L. Haynes Jr., Crosswalk.com
Have you ever had a conversation with someone and at some point in the conversation they say “you know God works in mysterious ways”? I haven’t heard this saying in a while but I remember having a very similar conversation with someone a few years ago, and these exact words came out of his mouth.
If you search for this term on Google you will discover 52,000,000 results. So people are wondering about it, or at least searching. What should we say about this term? Is God works in mysterious ways a Biblical truth or a myth? The only way to know if something is a Biblical truth is to go to the Bible, so let’s do just that.
The Truth about the Ways God Works
“’For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts’” (Isaiah 55:8-9).
When you read these verses, they teach you two critical lessons about God’s ways.
1. His ways are different than yours.
The way God does things, or the way God instructs us to do things, is totally different than how we would do it. Take salvation for instance. For you and I to receive the gift of life, God himself took on human flesh and had to die. I certainly would not have done it that way. I am a father and I love my son. I am not sacrificing his life so that someone else could live. That seems like it goes against the parent code, and this is just one issue. There are so many others in the scriptures. For example
Who would tell someone to love the one who is against you and pray for the one who is persecuting you?
Who says if you want to be great or first, you must humble yourself and be a servant to everyone?
Who tells an army leader you have too many men? You don’t need 32,000 men fighting you only need 300.
Who tells a man with leprosy to go wash himself seven times in the dirty water of the Jordan river to be cleansed and healed?
Who would think that it would take blood, one of the hardest stains to remove, to wash our sins away and make us clean?
None of this is logical and none of this is the way we would do it. That’s because these are not our ways. God’s ways are different than yours and mine.
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2. His ways are higher than yours.
Not only are God’s ways different, but they are also higher. This means that God thinks at a level far above our thinking. Just consider the fact that he can see the whole picture played out before it even begins. This gives him a great advantage. Imagine how you would react if you knew the outcome before you ever did something? Have you ever watched a movie knowing how it will end? Or watched a football game when you already know the final score? When you know, you think differently about it. There is no anxiety, no worry because you are confident in what is going to happen. In a sense, it elevates your thinking. This is the advantage God has with us.
Does This Mean That God’s Really Does Work in Mysterious Ways?
Let’s take this information and get back to the question. Is God works in mysterious ways a Biblical truth or a myth? We have already seen that God’s ways are different and higher than ours but does that make them mysterious?
The word mysterious, according to the Oxford Dictionary, means difficult or impossible to understand, explain, or identify. Let me ask you then, has God ever done something in your life that was difficult or impossible to understand, explain, or identify? I don’t need to wait for the answer because I know the answer is yes. Everyone of us has experienced this and not just us. Look at just about every story in the Bible and you will see things happen that goes beyond our ability to explain.
Using that definition and that understanding, you would probably have to conclude that God works in mysterious ways is a biblical truth and not a myth.
Can You Trust Your Own Ways?
We live in a world today where the prevailing thought is that I am my own person, I can figure it out. I will make my own way. While all of that sounds good (a little bit puffed up as well) there is a reality and truth that is missing. We can’t totally trust our way of thinking. Consider what the Proverbs say:
“There is a way which seems right to a man and appears straight before him, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12).
God’s ways may be higher than ours and mysterious so that we don’t always understand them, however we can trust that they are good. There are too many pitfalls that we can fall into when we trust our own ways. The Proverbs remind us that the end is death.
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How Should You Respond to God’s Ways?
God’s ways are not only higher than ours, they are better than ours. The big struggle we have is whether or not we will embrace them. There is a blessing and a hope that comes from embracing God’s ways. The good news is that the blessing comes even when you don’t understand what God is doing.
I want you to remember these four words in relationship to God’s ways. Show, Go, Trust, Live. Here is what I mean.
“Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths” (Psalm 25:4).
“Who is wise? Let them realize these things. Who is discerning? Let them understand. The ways of the Lord are right; the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them” (Hosea 14:9).
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
“For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever” (1 John 2:16-17).
Show, Go, Trust, Live.
The promise and blessing that comes in life is when you line up your life with God’s ways. You don’t have to understand them, you simply have to follow and trust them.
Yes, God Does Work in Mysterious Ways
Does God work in mysterious ways? Is it a Biblical truth? I believe the answer to these questions are both yes. While you may not find this exact verse in Scripture, you can be confident that you can build your life on the ways that God has lined out.
Let me repeat, it does not mean that you will always understand them, but you can always trust them. At the end of the day God’s ways and thoughts towards you are good. God’s plan and purpose for you are good as well. This is what you are trusting in.
Walk in God’s ways and watch him bring to pass this good plan that he has for your life even if sometimes it seems mysterious.
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Clarence L. Haynes Jr. is a speaker, Bible teacher, author and co-founder of The Bible Study Club. He has spent more than 30 years serving the body of Christ in various capacities and has just released his first book, The Pursuit of Purpose. If you have ever struggled trying to find God’s will, this book will help you discover the different ways God leads you into his perfect will. To learn more about his ministry please visit clarencehaynes.com.