Reflecting on the strange and mysterious ways of God, William Cowper wrote, “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 13 purposesdesigns and works His sov’reign will.”[1] We see God’s mysterious ways throughout history. They are often beyond us and some have discarded their faith in God because His ways are not our ways. Jeremiah 5:6 uses three animals to explain the judgment to fall upon those who have rejected His ways. It says, “Therefore a lion from the forest shall strike them down; a wolf from the desert shall devastate them. A leopard is watching their cities; everyone who goes out of them shall be torn in pieces, because their transgressions are many, their apostasies are great.”

The Bible and Jesus use the image of predators like this to picture Satan’s intentions toward man. He’s a lion prowling around to devour us. He’s a wolf sneaking into the fold to steal the sheep. In the “Inferno” Dante’s uses these three images (lion, wolf, and leopard) to depict the ill will of Satan. If you turn from the God who loves you, you will meet only the predator who desires nothing but to devour you. Isn’t this the point? Children turn from their parents and find their lives destroyed by the predators; things that promise pleasure and happiness but end enslaving them. If we let God’s mysterious ways deflect our faith in Him and His love for us, we end up being devoured by sin.

Cowper’s song goes on, “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 flow’r. Blind unbelief is sure to err and scan His work in vain; God is His own interpreter, and He will make it plain.” God doesn’t call us so much to great deeds and measurable accomplishments as He does to simply trust Him. As Jeremiah will remind us, “I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)