The hymn “God Moves in a Mysterious Way” has been a source of great comfort and blessing to many of God’s people since William Cowper wrote it in the 18th century. Yet few people know of the unusual circumstances that led to its composition.
William Cowper was a Christian, but he had sunk to the depths of despair. One foggy night he called for a horse drawn carriage and asked to be taken to the London Bridge on the Thames River. He was so overcome by depression that he intended to commit suicide. But after two hours of driving through the mist, Cowper’s coachman reluctantly confessed that he was lost. Disgusted by the delay, Cowper left the carriage and decided to find the London Bridge on foot. After walking only a short distance, though, he discovered that he was at his own doorstep! The carriage had been going in circles. Immediately he recognized the restraining hand of God in it all. Convicted by the Spirit, he realized that the way out of his troubles was to look to God, not to jump into the river. As he cast his burden on the Savior his heart was comforted. With gratitude he sat down and penned these reassuring words: “God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform; He plants His footsteps in the sea, and rides upon the storm. O fearful saints, fresh courage take, the clouds you so much dread are big with mercy, and shall break in blessings on your head.”
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