Your way was in the sea and Your paths in the mighty waters, and Your footprints may not be known.
–Psalm 77:19

In Romans 11:33, Paul praised God for His ways, which are untraceable. He said, “How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!” The “ways” of God refers to the workings of God in time and space.

God, out of His wisdom and knowledge, developed a plan for the salvation of the world, and that plan involved Jesus coming to earth and giving Himself as a sacrifice for our sins. The Bible says the plan to send Christ was instituted “before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4; 1 Peter 1:20). That was the decision of God and it was a part of His plan. However, God’s plan had to be worked out in time and space, so it involved a number of things that had to happen. For example, think about Joseph in the Old Testament. God showed Joseph in a dream that He was going to make him the ruler over his brothers. But then Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers. Then he ended up falsely accused of rape, imprisoned, and then forgotten in prison. Joseph must have wondered, “God, have You forgotten about me?” He could not trace where the footprints of God were leading. But all of those circumstances were working together to put him in Egypt so that he could save the entire Jewish people, from whom Jesus would come. He did not realize it was all the workings of God, the ways of God, to bring about His ultimate purpose.

Think for example, of an outworking of God’s plan that occurred on a Friday afternoon outside of Jerusalem in AD 33. When Jesus was crucified, the disciples were wondering, “What is going on here?” Even though Jesus had told them, it had not sunk in. They thought, “God has forsaken us.” They did not understand where God’s footprints were leading. Psalm 77:19 says, “Your way was in the sea and Your paths in the mighty waters, and Your footprints may not be known.” When you are in water, you do not leave any footprints. As the psalmist said, that is the way it is with God. For the most part, God does not leave footprints, and if He does, you have no idea where they are headed. In Isaiah 55:8, God said, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways.” We make a tremendous mistake when we try to draw conclusions about God from single events in our life. We forget that the ways of God cannot be traced.

Even when we cannot trace God’s ways, we can know that He is working to accomplish His purpose. Perhaps you had a dream in your life, but that dream has been shattered by a broken marriage, a stalled career, or a moral failure. Maybe you are tempted to think God is no longer working in your life. Don’t make that judgment too soon. Paul reminds us that God is still working even when His ways are untraceable. “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!”


Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Paul’s Praise Chorus” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2014.

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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