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God Hides as We Seek Him

By Dennis Pollock


I have always been intrigued with Isaiah's strange declaration to God: "Truly You are God, who hide Yourself, O God of Israel, the Savior!" (Isaiah 45:15). To hide is to conceal yourself, to deliberately keep people from seeing you. We know this is true in a physical sense. None of us has seen God, nor do we expect to in this life. But there is far more to God's "hiddenness" than this.


There is also a sense in which God's hides Himself from us in allowing us to go through dark times where we do not see Him moving on our behalf, not saying anything to us, leaving us in a state of confusion and discouragement, because nothing is changing, our prayers remain unanswered, all our seeking, asking, and knocking seem to be getting us nowhere. We wonder, "'Where are you, God? Why don't you answer me or at least speak to me and tell me why the desire of my heart has been so long in coming?"


We want action, but God seems intent on inaction. We want fast answers to prayers, but instead we go for weeks, months, and sometimes years without any breakthroughs, and the blessing for which we have diligently sought God has not been granted. But does not the Bible tell us that God "is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him?" Does Jesus not encourage us to trust that all who seek, find, all who ask, receive, and all who knock have the door opened for them? Yet we have been asking, seeking, knocking with all our strength, and doing this for months, and still no answer. God almost seems to be hiding Himself.


An Answer of "Yes"


My personal feeling, after nearly a lifetime of studying the Bible, is that when we ask for reasonable things, blessings we truly need, we have every right to expect a big, fat YES from God, and to see the answers show up in our lives. There are, of course, unreasonable requests people can make where it makes perfect sense for God to refuse us. If I become enamored with luxury cars and pray desperately that God would give me three Rolls Royce's, two Ferrari's, five Maserati's, six Jaguar's, and a dozen Mercedes Benz's, there is no reason to suppose that God will move heaven and earth to ensure that I receive the "desires of my heart." God is not a genie in a bottle to grant us every wish we could ever make.


But if I am asking for legitimate needs, things which are important for health, productivity, safety, and emotional well-being, I do not doubt that God will grant these. When I was single and praying for a wife, I read in the Bible that "he who finds a wife finds a good thing," and I concluded that I had every reason to expect God to answer this prayer, not by giving me a puppy or a goldfish, but a living, breathing, godly woman as my wife. And He surely did. I have had times when I was without a job, and I prayed for work, knowing that God is very much pro-work, and even commands us to work six days of the week. It was not a great leap of faith to believe that God would answer my prayers for a job, and He always did. In Jesus Christ there is not only salvation for the soul, but provision for our needs: "My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19).


Through Faith & Patience


But one thing I have learned, both from the Scriptures and from my own experience with the Lord, is that although God is quite happy to provide for our needs and answer nearly all our legitimate requests, this does not mean that His answers, His blessings, and His breakthroughs in our lives will come the moment we begin to pray. In Hebrews we read these words:


…that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises (Hebrews 6:12).


Usually when we seek the Lord for a particular blessing or breakthrough or deliverance from trouble, we focus on the first part – the faith aspect. And faith is vitally important. Without faith it is impossible to please God, and no one ever said, "Your faith has made you well" like Jesus said it, over and over again.


Not Only Faith…


But according to Hebrews, faith is not the only ingredient for receiving God's blessings. We receive blessings and get our prayers answered through faith AND patience. Patience implies a lengthy wait before God moves on our behalf. Patience means we are not going to be receiving from God or seeing Him open doors on our behalf the first day we begin to pray.


In fact, often not only do we not see any movement on God's part in the early days of our seeking Him, things may actually get worse. And worse still, God is absolutely silent on the matter. No impressions on our heart, no dreams, no word from Him at all. The weeks drag into months and nothing changes. This is that period of time that some have called "holy darkness." God hides Himself and asks us to trust Him and keep on seeking Him.


Here is where faith and patience mingle together and strengthen each other. Faith says, "God is for me, and has said YES to my prayer." Patience says, "And I will gladly wait until I see this answer manifested in my life."


If Only We Knew…


It would be easier if God would tell us specifically when the answer will arrive. If after our initial season of prayer, God dropped a note onto our pillow, telling us: "You will receive your answer on July 12th at 11 am," we could gladly wait until the date. But of course, God does not do that. He never tells us when to expect the answer; He simply encourages us to believe and trust Him that the answer is "on the way" and will arrive on our doorstep in God's perfect timing. Maybe it will get to us in a week, maybe a month, maybe longer. But however long it takes, we will wait with faith and patience, knowing that our Heavenly Father loves us, and provides generously for us through Jesus Christ our Savior.


And while we wait and pray and praise and thank God in advance for the answer that is surely coming, a strange thing happens. We grow spiritually. Our character is developed, our faith is strengthened rather than weakened through the process of inheriting yet another of God's promises through faith and patience. To push God too hard and demand instant gratification and blessing, bypassing God's ordained waiting process, is a dangerous thing. He might even give you what you desire, long before you should have it, and it will do you harm rather than good.


Prodigal Waster


This was precisely the case with the prodigal son Jesus talks about. He went to his father and insisted on his inheritance long before he was mature enough to appreciate it and handle it properly. The father gave his son what he asked, but he squandered it all on wild living. It wasn't that he was asking for something he had no business asking for. The inheritance truly was his by right of being a son of his father. But he was asking for it much too soon. He was bypassing the process of growing to maturity and gaining a heart of wisdom that could handle great wealth. His insistent demands for it all "right now" ended up costing him much.


Nobody in the Bible talked more about answered prayer than our Lord Jesus. He constantly encourages us to pray and trust God for answers, saying:


  1. " For everyone who asks receives…" (Matthew 7:8)
  2. " Whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them." (Mark 11:24)
  3. " If you ask anything in My name, I will do it." (John 14:14)
  4. "And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive." (Matthew 21:22)
  5. " If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you." (John 15:7)


These words, coming from the mouth of the One who is the Truth, should encourage us greatly. We have a Heavenly Father who cares for us, and when we approach Him in prayer in the name of our crucified and resurrected Savior, the Lord Jesus, we can expect answers.


Allow Patience to Work


But we must not allow that season of "holy darkness" to discourage us, while we wait and pray and remind God of His promises, and while He hides Himself and allows us to endure a period where both faith and patience are paramount. James tells us:


But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing (James 1:4).


Our God is a rich and generous Father. He has blessings in heaven that are just waiting for us to pray them down into our lives. And if we must endure a season of time while God delays and no answer seems forthcoming, we will gladly do so. Our God is worth waiting for.




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