This phrase actually comes from a hymn by William Cowper. That says, in part:

“God moves in mysterious ways,

His wonders to perform.

He plants his footsteps in the sea,

And rides upon the storm.”

Although the expression, “God moves in mysterious ways” is not found in the Bible, it is often a true description.

We read in Isaiah 55:8-9, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Often, the ways of the Lord seem strange to us because we are so limited in our knowledge and understanding. The Lord sees things from an eternal and all-knowing perspective. Because of this, He often does things that are completely unexpected to us.

Let’s consider the words of the Lord in Isaiah 46:9-11, “Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure: Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.” Even as a child finds it hard to understand the decisions of its father, we often find it hard to understand the ways of the Lord. However, He knows all. He determines all things from the beginning to the end. His purpose is eternal and perfect.

What are we to do when we just cannot understand the ways of the Lord? May we say, as the writer of the book of Hebrews said in Hebrews 2:13, “…I will put my trust in him.” We who are saved have trusted the Lord for our eternal salvation. Can we not trust Him for our everyday needs? Can we not trust Him even when we don’t understand His ways? We might ask, “Why did the Lord allow my loved one to die?” “Why did I not get that job that I was clearly qualified for?” “Why do the ungodly people seem to be happy and prosperous while I have to struggle to pay the rent?” Let us always keep before us the truth that the Lord knows what He is doing. He loves us, and all his works towards us, even the ones we don’t understand, are born out of His endless love for us. We have a wonderful promise to believers in Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

Oftentimes, the Lord brings us through different trials to strengthen us. We read in Romans 5:3, “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience.”   Although the Lord’s ways may seem mysterious to us, they are not mysterious to Him. The Lord has His plans and His purposes. They are perfect and He will perform them. Just trust Him. (169.5)