Behind a Frowning Providence

I find great comfort in the doctrine of God’s providence. And I love the way the Heidelberg Catechism defines it in Q&A #27:

Q. What do you understand by the providence of God?

A. Providence is the almighty and ever present power of God by which He upholds, as with his Hand, heaven and earth and all creatures and so rules them that leaf and blade, rain and drought, fruitful and lean years, food and drink, health and sickness, prosperity and poverty — all things, in fact, come to us not by chance but from His fatherly hand. 

But I am not always as moved by the catechism as I am song. This is why I appreciate artists like William Cowper (1731-1800). Indeed, the mystery and comfort of God’s providence should be sung. To help us sing, here are the words to Cowper’s “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.

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