the God who hides himself | John 7.10
But after his brothers had gone up to the feast, then he also went up, not publicly but in private.
John 7.10 | ESV
Off his brothers went, taking their shaking heads and clucking tongues with them. And no sooner had they headed off on the pilgrimage trail along with the rest of the happy campers, than Jesus turned right around and headed off after them. But all on the sly. No fanfare. No company. MAV
“Truly, you are a God who hides himself, O God of Israel, the Savior.” (Isaiah 45:15)
This is one of the harder aspects about God, but one of the more undeniable ones.
The mysterious, disappearing God that can leave us wondering if he was ever even there to begin with. There seems to be far too much hide and seek, far too much now you see me now you don’t going on in this whole God business.
And Jesus turns it into an art in the pages of John.
The fine art of disappearing into crowds, becoming part of the wood work. Heals a lame man, and he’s gone…and then there he is; heals a man born blind, and then, poof, gone…and then…back again. And now with his brothers it’s “You go, I’m not going,” and then after the traffic clears, off he quietly goes after them. Opposition in the temple scours the horizon looking for him, people are wondering where he is…
Yes, you are a God who hides yourself.
But then what do we expect from a God who “dwells in the thick clouds, who makes the darkness his pavilion.” But still it tends to catch us off guard, to unravel us, to undo our faith – particularly with the prolonged absences. For someone named “Immanuel,” “God with us,” he can sure be pretty not with us at times. Which isn’t to merely complain, any more than to remark on cold temperatures is to complain that there’s such a thing as winter.
It is simply to acknowledge the absence of warmth and of the sun, whetting our anticipation for their consistent presence in the spring. The sun returns – and so does the Son, who suddenly shows up right in the middle of musing and murmuring crowds who ask “Where is that man?”
A scene that replays itself over and over again in the lives of us all.
How do you handle those times when God seems hidden and absent? What can sustain us in such seasons?
Abba, you tell us we are to walk by faith and not by sight; energize such faith in me during those times when I don’t see you or the way forward; give me sustaining grace to hold on through the lonely stretches of life when your presence seems a distant memory. Let me embrace these movements of presence and absence and thrive in the midst of them. Through Christ.