Sermon Illustrations

1938 God Moves In Mysterious Ways

At age 32, William Cowper passed through a great crisis in his life. He tried to end his life by taking laudanum. Then he hired a horse-drawn cabbie, ordering the driver to take him to the Thames, intending to throw himself from the bridge. It was one of London’s foggiest nights. They drove for an hour without reaching the chosen spot. Disgusted, he decided to get out and walk there. He found to his surprise they had actually gone in a circle and he was back at his own doorstep!

The next morning, he fell upon a knife, but the blade broke and his life was spared. He then tried to hang himself, and was cut down unconscious but still alive.

Then one morning, in a moment of strange cheerfulness, he took up his Bible and read a verse in the Letter to the Romans. In a moment he received strength to believe, and rejoiced in the forgiving power of God.

Sometime later, Cowper summed up his faith in God’s loving dealing with him in a great hymn which became a favorite among Christians:

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.

(Tan, Paul Lee: Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations : A Treasury of Illustrations, Anecdotes, Facts and Quotations for Pastors, Teachers and Christian Workers. Garland TX : Bible Communications, 1996, c1979)

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