Truly You are a God who hides Yourself, O God of Israel, the Savior. Isaiah 45:15
Have you ever felt as though God was hiding? You pray, you call out to Him and it seems as though no one is listening? Oh, you can be sure He IS listening even though it doesn’t seem so to you.
There are a few reasons why God seems to ‘hide’ Himself from us at times.
He may be trying to get our attention away from those things that have been distracting us. Let’s face it – our daily lives are full of events and people that can distract us from our purpose, our calling and our spiritual pursuit of the Lord.
It may be that He is disciplining us or as some would describe it, chastening us. What does that mean? Chastening is essentially God hiding Himself from us. It’s when we seem to hit a wall, when nothing makes sense and the heavens seems closed. It’s when you feel deserted, when the God who was so real to you three days ago has disappeared and you can’t seem to find Him again.
King David experienced those this. He wrote: ‘Why do you stand far off, Lord? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?’ Psalm 10:1 And again: How long, O Lord? Will You forget me for good? How long will You hide Your face from me?’ Psalm 13:1
The irony of these times we experience is this: at the very time that the Lord seems the most absent to you, He is actually totally present. The ‘hiding of His Face’, properly understood, is a blessing in disguise for which we must learn to be grateful. It is absolute proof that He loves you!
My son, do not despise the discipline of the lord, nor grow weary when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and scourges every son whom He receives. Hebrews 12:5-6
We love to feel His conscious and manifest presence and wish those times would last forever. They will…in eternity. But in this life one of the most important lessons to learn is to believe His Word just as much when we feel nothing as when His manifest presence is all around us. It pleases Him immensely when we believe His Word during the hiding of His Face from us as much as we do when He allows us to sense His powerful presence.
Think of it this way, when the Lord reveals His presence in a manifest way, He is pleasing us. When we believe His Word and stand on it unconditionally without the sense of His presence, we please Him.
And we should get as much joy in pleasing Him as when He pleases us.
Here’s the question we must ask ourselves: Do we want more of God or more from God?
What makes you happier – knowing you are pleasing Him or having Him please you?
Paul told Timothy to be ‘ready in season and out of season’. 2 Tim. 4:2 Fundamentally that means be equally faithful and diligent whether you feel like it or not!
Do you find your joy in knowing that you please Him? One of the most telling verses in the New Testament is about Enoch who received this commendation: that he ‘pleased God.’ Heb. 11:5
Perhaps you remember your parents saying to you when you needed to be disciplined, ‘This hurts me more than it hurts you.’ Father God feels the same way. He gets no pleasure in hiding from us for after all, He created us for fellowship with Him! He only hides His Face when He knows we need it.
Over the years a number of people have expressed to me or in my presence the fear that perhaps they’re not really saved. When I hear that, I like to ask them one question: ‘Have you ever been disciplined by the Lord? Convicted or rebuked?’ If they say ‘Yes’ and they all have, my response is: ‘Praise the Lord! God only chastens those whom He loves, so rejoice.’
Here’s what we need to understand about the Lord’s chastening in our lives:
1) He has nothing to prove; He doesn’t turn around the ask the angels, ‘Was that too harsh?’ He is perfect in all of His ways towards us.
2) He never loses His temper when He disciplines us.
3) He doesn’t shout at you or use harsh language.
4) He asks you to follow His ways because they’re the best for you.
5) He doesn’t demand you be perfect, only faithful to His Word
6) He ALWAYS has time for you – always! He never leaves you nor forsakes you.
Our sin nature is allergic to holiness. The Lord in His abundant love disciplines us that we might ‘share in His holiness.’ Heb. 12:10 He created us to be transformed into the image and likeness of His beloved Son, Jesus. Therefore, He will do whatever it takes in our lives to drive us to our knees, solidify our focus on Him and persuade our hearts to love Him and His will above all else.
There’s a wonderful song that includes in the lyrics this phrase: ‘He never gives up, He never gives up, He never gives up on me.’
Aren’t you thankful that He doesn’t!
For it is God who is at work in you to will and to do of His good pleasure. Phil. 2:13