“Behold, I go forward, but he is not there and backward, but I do not perceive him; on the left hand when he is working, I do not behold him; he turns to the right hand, but I do not see him. But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold. Job 23:8-10. ESV.
Does what Job described above look like your current experience?
The hiddenness of God is an experience every godly saint go through from time to time – a situation where like Job, you have a feeling that God seems absent in the midst of your earthly struggles. You feel that God seems to be very far and has suddenly distanced Himself from you. You look for all the exciting experiences you had before with God when you first met Him and they seem to have all gone or not satisfying anymore. It is true that sin separates us from God and makes God to distance Himself from us. However, if it is because of a sinful life style, once you repent from it, God forgives and relationship is restored. But in most of the times when we feel this way, you look into your life to see if there is any active sin that is making God to seem very far away but you cannot pin-point anything substantial, and yet God seems to hide Himself from you. The truth is that the hiddenness of God is not always caused by your sins or any bad thing you have done and you are not alone.
This crisis is possible to happen in the midst of a dragged problem or a troubling situation you cannot explain, like in Job’s case. When tragedy happens, we all tend to asking God why, seeking for answers. Even those that encourage you not to ask God why, live with the question in their hearts. But not many of us get an answer to those questions of why. The truth is that when we are in the midst of a difficult experience, no matter how terrible it may be, the power of that problem breaks when God speaks. We tend to handle tragedies better with peace when we know God’s perspective. In this case, God seems silent, saying nothing. Nobody can actually tell the number of weeks, months or years that existed between Job 1 and Job 38, but we suspect that it was a long time. The challenge is that within this period, there are these strange voices that will be speaking very loudly, but they do not offer the answer that you seek. It was not easy for Job to fight off the voices of his wife and his close friends who, instead of helping him, exacerbated the situation and hence increased the intensity of his desire for answers. Yes, God eventually revealed Himself and spoke and that brought closure to Job’s questions. I pray that He speaks in your situation today.
This situation can also occur because God is drawing you up to a new level of relationship with Him. He may be up to something bigger than where you are currently. He hides, as it were, and expects you to pursue Him in a closer relationship. In the course of your earnest seeking, He teaches you something new and takes you to a new level of experience. Attitude is developed, patience is learned and childishness is done away with. Who does not want to remain in that first childish experience when God seemed all around you and responded to almost every word you uttered, even when we asked amiss? Who does not want to remain in that responsibility-free state where everyone cared for us and we cared for no one? The truth is that that is what happens when a new baby is born, even spiritual babies too. Nobody wants to leave a baby to stay on its own unattended to. But there comes a time when the baby has to grow, though still being loved and cared for, the person is left with little or no supervision because he or she is expected to be responsible and be able to take decisions according to all that he or she has been taught. God trains us so that we can manifest as sons representing Him in the affairs of this earth. You do not need the pampering of childhood to know that God is with you and loves you. If you continue to follow hard after Him, He will reveal Himself, His purposes and His ways to you.
It can actually be a period of great test of faith to proof something in your life. We often want to permanent a specific experience or even make an idol out of a single experience. We always want to re-invent the experience because that is what gives us the feeling that God is with us. If we do not have the experience, we feel God is very far away and has abandoned us. God may actually be drawing us out of ourselves, exposing the utter hopelessness and helplessness of our strength so that we can wholly put our trust in Him. The fact that we feel He is far does not really mean that He is far. It may truly mean that He is essentially active in our lives. He removes the cherished experience, breaks the arm of flesh and desires that we look up to Him for help.
The hiddenness of God happens because of the incomprehensiveness of God’s nature. Even though God can be known, yet no man can claim to have comprehensively known Him. He is an eternal mystery Himself, hence, no matter your experience with Him, you are still short of knowing Him. The revelation of God we have in nature, in the Scriptures and ultimately in His Son is the extent that is revealed to us, and that is enough for our salvation, but God in His essence is still bigger than what is revealed to us. We know God when we know Jesus Christ. Though the experience of this knowledge is often sensed at the realm of emotions and feelings, it is important to note that we walk by faith in what is revealed and not by our wavering feelings. Good feelings are good and God sometimes grants us those nice feelings as we experience Him. However, our lives should not be lived based on feelings but on faith. That is why without faith, it is impossible to please Him. He that comes to God must first of all believe and that is a prerequisite. Faith is a prerequisite at the beginning of the journey, it is a prerequisite in the journey and is also a prerequisite at the end of the journey. Nobody is discountenancing the validity of your feelings but valid feelings do not mean that they represent truth. Truth is what is revealed and what is revealed should be taken above our feelings. In practical terms, it means that the feeling of God’s distance does not mean that God is very far away because He is ever with us. Heb.13:5 says “never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” NIV. The truth revealed is that God is with us, even in every difficult and painful situation. We have to live at the level of faith in God’s written Word and not at the level of our feelings.
Now I want to humbly note that what I share here does not give all the answers to the issue of the hiddenness of God. For example, some have complained and asked why the God of love should make knowing Him very difficult, in spite of all the efforts of some people to sincerely seek Him. I have a brother who many years ago complained to I and my wife how he was willing to give his life to Jesus Christ but in spite of all his efforts, God seemed not to be easy for him to find. It is a real and practical challenge of many people. We led the brother to Christ but nothing seemed to have happened. We continued to pray for him until after many years, God cleared the cloud in his mind and made Himself known to him. He loves to reveal Himself to all who sincerely seek Him.
Firstly, what this teaches me is that I should always respond to God as he reveals Himself to me. Postponing my response is being presumptuous as He is the only One that takes the initiative to reveal Himself. Secondly, we have to trust His heart even when we do not understand what His hands are doing. We trust His heart that He has good intentions and good thoughts for us and will do what is good and right. Finally, as Henry Blackaby said in his book, Experiencing God, when you are confused in the middle of your walk with God and cannot seem to know where He is working currently in your life, continue doing the last thing you are sure God revealed to you and in due course, the cloud will clear. God loves you. Remain blessed.