Reflection for August 13, 2023

The Hiddenness of God

Psalm 22:1-2

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer….”

Psalm 42:2,3

“My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? My tears have

been my food day and night, while men say to me [taunt me] all day long, ‘Where is your


To varying degrees and at various times we may identify with the psalmist who yearns for God,

but God seems to be hidden from view, silent and seemingly not participating in the time of

stress that was bringing the psalmist to the breaking point. Sometimes we wonder why prayer

is not being answered, why life is so hard when we are trying our best, and how one can

believe in God when he just cannot be seen. This meditation summarizes the reflection shared

at the service on August 13, 2023.

The question, then, is very simple: Why might God seem hidden to our view or our

experience? We shall look at five reasons, one of which can’t be changed and four of which

can be resolved to the point that they are not impediments to faith.

1. The Very Nature of God

In 1 Timothy 1:17 we read, ”Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be

honour and glory for ever and ever.”

1 Timothy 6:15, 16: “God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who

alone its immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can

see….to him be honour and might forever.”

Ponder carefully each of the attributes of God! If our universe, created by our God, contains at

least some 200 billion galaxies each of which contain billions of stars, then is it little wonder

that we, as Christians, worship a God that is beyond awesome and impossible for our finite

minds to grasp. There is a hymn which starts, “Immortal, invisible, God only wise // In light

inaccessible, hid from our eyes.” Science tells us that our cosmos was created in the realm of

close to a dozen dimensions. We can only ever understand four. So the fact is that our God is

glorious beyond our capacity to grasp. We see the craftsmanship of God both on the infinitely

massive scale (the cosmos) as well as in the infinitely small scale (atoms and quarks). We see

God’s handiwork but, God, himself, who is not part of creation, cannot be seen.

Thus, the first reason that God is hidden to us rests simply in the reality of who he is! But do

not panic….we shall understand that it is possible to know God even if we cannot see him!

2. Sin

Psalm 66:18 “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.” When we

sin, we put an impediment between ourselves and God. It is like trying to run an electronic

device with a corroded electrode or a leaking battery that corrupts the connection. The

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essence of original sin was disobeying God’s one and only restriction on our choices. You may

recall that the result was shame between Adam and Eve and that they felt compelled to hide

from God. The Lord God called in the cool of the garden morning, “Where are you?”. And

God still calls us!

When we hurt or offend another person, the solution is to genuinely apologize and say “sorry”

and make restitution. In the walk of faith, it is the act of repentance and confession that

restores our relationship with God. Just as the father of the prodigal son reached out in love to

his returning wayward son, so God reaches us with his embrace when we turn from our sin.

When God seems hidden or distant, it is worth asking if the fault is on our side. Have we done what we need to do to reconcile to God?

In this section, it is important to note something even more sinister about sin. We can hide

God from others if we live a life of hypocrisy. Vast multitudes reject religion and with it, God,

when they see the disconnect between a Christian’s talk and walk, or the corruption in the

church or the historically dastardly activities done in the name of religion. Keep in mind that

the only glimpse of God that some may have is the life of Christ in a faithful believer.

3. Unbelief

There is such a thing as blind faith but there is also such a thing as blind unbelief. Faith as well

as unbelief, both deserve scrutiny as to their foundations. So many reject anything to do with

Christian faith without ever having read the Gospel records or having had a serious

conversation with a person of faith. Believing wrong things or false things or theologically skewed thinking result in a hidden God! And unbelief becomes entrenched. On the other

hand, the hidden God may become unhidden with honest searching. The Bible teaches, “Taste

and see that the Lord is good.” Lee Strobel was a legal editor with the Chicago Tribune, an

atheist, who set out to once and for all show that faith in God is meaningless. He interviewed

all kinds of experts in many fields and ended up a man of faith—one for whom God was no

longer hidden. He eventually wrote several books sharing his journey.

Unbelief banishes God from consciousness. It is not God who hides—it is we who do the

hiding and barricade ourselves from the evidences of God that are everywhere. Just as

Christians are admonished to have solid reasons for their faith (1 Peter 3:15), those who are not

believers would do well to look to look into some of the realities of our existence and

experience with an open heart and mind.

4. Divergence of Perspective between Us and God

Isaiah 55:9 God’s words: “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher

than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Deuteronomy 29:29 “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed

belong to us and to our children forever.”

Romans 8:26 “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we

ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot

express….the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.”

Paul had some sort of physical affliction which he implored God to remove three times. But

the problem was not resolved for him and God’s answer was, “My grace is sufficient for you.”

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Does this seem unfeeling of God? Perhaps. Might Paul’s affliction have had a role in keeping him humble and effective?

Job also suffered for a prolonged period of time and lost his children and all his wealth quite

suddenly as well as his health. His answer to his wife, who advised him to curse God and die,

was to say, “Shall we not accept difficulty from God as well as good?” In fact, Job went on to say, “Though God slay me, yet I will trust him.” Job had a long range view and knew that despite the hardships in the here and now, there is a wonderful future that God has for those who seek him. Job 19:26,27 “And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see

God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within


Jesus prayed in Gethsemane that he might be spared the agonizing prospect of crucifixion, but

he said to God the Father: “….but not my will but yours be done.” Where would we be without the Cross of Christ? Are we willing to pray similarly in difficult circumstances and leave the outcome to God?

Throughout scripture, there are many accounts of people of faith questioning God’s ways and

having their faith undermined because their agendas were at variance with the bigger and more

lasting agenda of God. Peter tried to dissuade Jesus from going to Jerusalem where a

dreadful death awaited him—Peter was rebuked for interfering with God’s plan.

So, God may seem hidden when we just have no insight into God’s plan or the meaning of our

or another person’s experience from God’s perspective. We may be fired from our job and

wonder why. And then, later, we realize that the closing of one door eventually opened another

and perhaps better one.

Be steadfast, and trust that God is always good and will never abdicate his care of you even

though things for now seem tough. The apostle Paul, who suffered considerably in his

ministry, said in his letter to the Romans (8:38,39) “For I am convinced that neither death nor

life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither

height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of

God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

We now come to one of the thorniest reasons for God appearing to be hidden:

5. The stumbling block of freewill and evil

There is a lot of philosophical debate whether freewill is real or imagined and there is no

question that from birth we get programmed into life. What we think and do is often based on what happened in our past. This is not the path of conversation in this reflection. Rather, we

shall look together at a more thorny issue that keeps many from faith and shakes the faith of

those who have it.

We all make choices continually. We can choose between right or wrong, being kind or hurtful,

forgiving or taking revenge, making peace or war, being honest or cheating, loving or hating

etc. We would not want to be deprived of the ability to choose. Neither did God want to

deprive us of the ability to choose and freely operate within creation with the exception of only

one restriction—not to touch the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” which basically

meant that we were not to decide for ourselves what is right or wrong but rather, to trust God

to lead us in what is right. God gave humankind, ourselves, the ability to choose for him or

against him. A love fellowship with God can only be genuine when it is freely pursued and not

forced! God risked giving us the ability to choose his way in obedience or to choose our own

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way in disobedience. Unfortunately, we are paying the consequences of choosing our own

way as humankind.

God could commandeer every word we say, everything we do, everywhere we go, how we

respond to everyone so that there would never be a curse, or bad deed, or steps that follow

the ways of harm and death. Manipulating and forcing compliance was not the plan. It would

have resulted in millions of robots who would never have a choice. It would be God playing a

cosmic video game with earthlings.

So what does this have to do with the hiddenness of God? Well, put simply, we love to be able

to determine our own trajectory but we do not like the personal and global consequences of

freewill. Evil people choose to harm others; powerful rulers invade others, business tycoons

suppress the small players, governments oppress their people, pollution destroys nature. So

on the one hand we’re on side with the intended mandate of freewill but we may blame God

for the consequences of freewill on our global scale. Is that fair? The classical question is

“why does God allow evil to prosper?” Atheists argue that if God were good, he would not

allow terrible things to happen. But if he were to restrict all evil, God would have to clamp our

mouths shut, monitor our motives and block many of the pathways that we choose—back to

being robots!

So, from the perspective of many, both of faith and non-faith, God may seem hidden from the

reality of our existence simply because we do suffer and he is not doing anything about the evil

that besets us. But the Bible makes it very clear that there will come a time when God wraps

up history, judging evil and bringing those committed to him into a wonderful eternity with him!

In 2 Peter 3:9,10 we read: “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand

slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come

to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief….and the earth and everything

done in it will be laid bare.” God endures the corruption just to give people a chance to turn

towards him!

The Solution

Let us quickly review the five points made so far. The one fixed reason for God being hidden is

simply who he is and our inability to fathom or grasp his reality. But then, there are four

reasons for God being seemingly hidden which can be resolved in faith: our sin, our unbelief or

faulty thinking, the disconnect between our expectations and God’s agenda and the

troublesome consequences of free will. Before closing, let us look at the solution.

The problems that we have with the hiddenness of God are resolved in Jesus Christ. Let us

see how. The apostle, John writes in his epistle (1 John 1:1-4):

“This is what we proclaim to you: what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we

have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and our hands have touched — this we

proclaim concerning the word of life—and the life was revealed, and we have seen and testify

and announce to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us. What we

have seen and heard we announce to you too, so that you may have fellowship with us (and

indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.”

And in his Gospel, John writes (John 1:14):

“The Word [Jesus Christ] became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his

glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

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In John 14:8-10:

“Philip [the disciple] said, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be content.” Jesus replied,

“Have I been with you for so long and yet you have not known me, Philip? The person who has

seen me has seen the Father! How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

God stepped into our world clothed in flesh. born of the virgin Mary, became as we are to make

very clear to us his existence and his profound love for us. Jesus Christ took our sin upon

himself on the cross, being resurrected on the third day to validate his glory and victory over

sin and evil. In Jesus Christ, we have the promise of a hope and future for those who embrace

him in love and obedience and humility. In Jesus, we see God.

Jesus ascended back into the glory of heaven but promised to minister to us through the Holy

Spirit and accompany us through the few years allotted to us on this earth. We are assured

that God, the Father, will ultimately judge evil and make all things new. Isaiah 65:17 “Behold, I

will create new heavens and a new earth The former things will not be remembered, nor will

they come to mind.” In 1 Corinthians 13:12 we read: “For now we see only a reflection as in

a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I

am fully known.” As for the here and now, the exercise of freewill to choose obedience to

Jesus Christ paradoxically liberates us to be the people we were intended to be. In John 8:36

Jesus says: “So if the Son [Jesus] sets you free, you will be free indeed.


Despite what it seems like at times, God does not hide and is not really hidden. He is very

much present now and draws close to those who open their hearts to him. God has

spoken to us in so many ways (see the sermon summary of July 16). In particular, God

reached out to us in his incarnation walking our dusty roads and healing our hearts and souls if

we let him. He will never remain hidden to those who seek him!

Jeremiah 29:13 “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jesus

said in John 14:6: “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life—no one comes to the Father except

through me.” Seek Jesus and you will find God, the Father! You will find rest for your souls

and true freedom.

On Labour Day weekend, we shall consider “The Fellowship of God” which will build on all

these considerations. Keep looking upwards!

John K.

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