God works in mysterious ways | Stuff the Bible doesn't say
The phrase "God works in mysterious ways" is another one of those often repeated phrases that is meant to be encouraging. Alongside, "everything happens for a reason" it's one of those quick, comforting phrases that often meets us in times of trouble.
When something happens that is beyond our understanding, we'll hear or say to ourselves that "God works in mysterious ways." But this phrase isn't found in the Bible, and although it's true that we won't always understand how God is at work in our lives in this life,
it robs us of the opportunity to grow in closeness with God if we think we can never discover how God works.
God is always the same
Isaiah 55:8 says, “'For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,' declares the Lord." God's thoughts are so much higher than ours, you know, because He's God. But how He works isn't actually all that mysterious. He is the same, and how He works will stay consistent with His character.
When we read Isaiah 55:8, we are essentially being told to remember that God sees a bigger picture than we do, and works in ways we may not understand because of His holiness. But in this same passage we also read in verse 11, "So will My word be which goes out of My mouth; It will not return to Me void (useless, without result), Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it."
God gave us His word and His promises and they reveal God's character to us. The more familiar we are with His Word, the more familiar we are with God.
We can recognize what God might be doing in any situation because we recognize Him. This doesn't mean we will fully comprehend everything God does, but we should try to get to know Him better and become more confident in the truth that God is a promise keeper and will always act out of that identity.
We can get to know how He works
Proverbs 8:17 says, "“I love those who love me; And those who seek me early and diligently will find me." God isn't playing a giant game of hide and seek with us. He's actually eager to be available to those who love Him and seek Him.
Being around faithful, seasoned Christians is always such a blessing because of their confidence and hope in Jesus. You can sense that it has sustained them through life, and they are often settled and confident that God will come through again because they have a lifetime of answered prayers and God moments to look back on.
When we encounter a situation that feels familiar in a spiritual sense, we can recognize how God will work because we have seen it before.
Basically, with spiritual maturity comes a spiritual sense of deja vu.
You have seen God show up before, and you expect Him to show up again. It's not a mystery, it's a reality.
The mystery of God
There are definitely aspects of God that are mysterious. The trinity is super hard to grasp, men and women are all the bride of Christ, and the whole book of Revelation is pretty wild to try to comprehend. But theological mysteries don't equate to God working in mysterious ways.
Actually, God continually reveals to His people how He works. In Daniel 2:47 when Daniel spoke to the king with revelation from God the king responds, "The king answered Daniel and said, 'Most certainly your God is the God of gods and the Lord of kings and a revealer of
mysteries, since you have been able to reveal this mystery!'" When speaking about church leadership, one of the requirements is understanding the mysteries of God (1 Timothy 3:8-9).
God Himself might be a mystery in some ways, meaning we can't fully comprehend Him, but the way He works will be consistent with scripture because He never changes. God doesn't work in mysterious ways; He displays Himself to be consistent with His faithful, generous character, and as His people, we should want to become very familiar with how He moves.