“My ways are not your ways!” I’ve heard Christians quote this verse in numerous contexts to suggest that God’s ways are completely different than and even contrary to human reasoning. Let me give two examples:
1/ The problem of evil– some might say we could never understand why God allows evil (or some specific evils) because God’s ways are just plain different than ours.
2/ Discerning God’s will– some might say that when a person senses God is leading them, the guidance probably won’t make sense. Further, it probably won’t even seem wise (which further allows that person to neglect the wise counsel of others).
The problem with using the above quote these ways is … it is just plain wrong! This verse is found in Isaiah 55:8, but the context of the verse makes it very clear that the author (or God speaking through the author) has a specific meaning in mind. Verse 7 makes it clear that the manner in which God’s ways differ from human ways is that if “the wicked forsake their ways and . . . turn to the Lord” then God “will have mercy on them” and even “freely pardon” them. In other words, God’s ways differ from human ways because he will forgive freely!
This verse is NOT suggesting that God acts unreasonably or in a way that humans could never understand. While it is true that we might not fully understand why God allows for some evils, it doesn’t mean that God has no good reason for it (it just means that we don’t understand it…yet). God acts in wise and reasonable ways. Of course, we don’t always know what those reasons are, but that is significantly different than saying that “his ways are not my ways.”