The Hiddenness of God –
1”Why, LORD, do you stand far off?
Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?”
Psalm 13: 1-3
1 “How long, LORD? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
3 Look on me and answer, LORD my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death…”
“Jesus said that my bread is to do the will of my father. I’m all the time being asked by people “How do you feel closer to God?” And I kinda wanna say…I don’t know. When I read the lives of most of the great saints I get the sense that they didn’t necessarily feel close to God. When I read the Psalms I get the feeling like David and the other psalmists felt quite far away form God for most of the time. Closeness to God is not about feeling. Closeness to God is about obedience. It’s just as simple as that…I don’t know how you feel closer to God, and no one I know who seems to be close to God knows anything about those feelings either. I know if we obey, occasionally the feeling follows, but not always, but occasionally. I know if we disobey we don’t have a shot at it.”
God’s hiddeness is a common motif throughout Scripture and church history; as evidenced by the above quote many great men and women of God spent more time feeling far away from God than feeling close to Him. Job spent the majority of his book crying out to God to reveal himself. There is no easy explanation for why God chooses to hide His obvious presence, and for the very vast majority there is no explanation at all. There are, however, a few facts which bring a sort of understanding to the issue.
- Closeness to God is not about feeling.
- Oftentimes when we feel the farthest from God we are most centrally in His will.
- How close we feel to God often depends (though is not conditional to) on us and how we interact with Him. A relationship requires effort on both part, and it is partly on us to make effort to be close to God.
- God’s silence and hiddeness is not the same as His absence. It is a faulty assumption that because we cannot perceive Him that He is not there.
- God will withdraw to test us as He sees fit. This is the case with many notable figures in Christian history.
- If one’s private life is not a reflection of the Christian life, it is to be expected that the feeling of God’s presence would not be felt. One cannot live in unrepentant sin and expect God to turn a blind eye.
These factors do not necessarily make it any easier to go through any ordeal while not having an obvious presence of God in the midst of it. There is no real answer I can give as to why God hides Himself. The above factors, however, are real reasons that must be considered.
The big questions remain mostly unanswered, but perhaps slightly contextualized and explained. No one can say exactly why God appears to be absent in hard situations. But this much we can be sure of: while it may seem that God is absent, He is not. He is always present, and no situation is outside His knowledge or not under His control.
As referenced with Job, he cried out for an audience with God…and he got it. He had to demand, to get in God’s face, to plead, to cry, to be totally broken and totally beaten down…but he got his audience with God, because he was willing to be real and to seek, to knock, and to ask.
James 4:2 (KJV)
“Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.”
Matthew 7:8 (KJV)
“For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.”
The relational factor must not be forgotten. It requires effort (asking, seeking, knocking on the door) on our part to draw near to God, and this involves periods of seeming-absence, often for reasons we cannot understand. But for our part we must be sure to pursue God as He pursues us.
“When Jesus felt the most forsaken by God on the cross, He was in the very center of the Father’s will.”