The God Who Hides Himself

Isaiah 45:15

Elizabeth Browning, with a poet’s insight, said that every common bush was afire with God, but that the fact was unnoticed by the people who sat by it and just picked blackberries. In his poem The Kingdom of God, Francis Thompson says to the folk who think of God as dwelling “above the bright blue sky,” that this world is so full of spiritual truth and heavenly beings that if we turned over a stone or looked behind a tree we might start an angel flying.

God never openly advertises Himself in His works. An attitude of reverence and effort of mind are necessary if we are to become aware of God in the things He has made. Unlike ourselves, who wait for applause when we have done something well, God does not bow about upon the stage where His works are shown, waiting for us to praise Him. He paints the wayside flower and lights the evening star and leaves them to be His silent witnesses. He places His song in the throats of singing birds, in the sound of waterfalls and streams, and in the crash of heavy seas against cliffs and hides behind them all.

If only He would do something dramatic and make us all see Him! When Jesus Christ was here in human form He said “No” to the temptation to win the people to His side by casting Himself down from the top of the temple, to be rescued by a company of angels, or by making stones into bread or by defying the strength of the spikes that fastened Him to His cross on Calvary and coming down from it. He does not work that way.

Men have always wanted a spectacular revelation of God. Even the prophet Isaiah seemed troubled about the apparent unwillingness of God to reveal Himself. “Truly you are a God who hides Himself,” (Isaiah 45:15) he said. In that expression, he brought out one of the deep mysteries of the Christian faith—a God who hides Himself.

Then came Jesus Christ, quietly, not in a great demonstration of power or majesty. Those with spiritual insight saw His glory. But a few years later He went away and was seen no more in physical form. Why does He conceal Himself? Because the Christian life is essentially one of faith, with lessons of trust to be learned which could not be gained in any other way.

When it is necessary God, standing within the shadows, will reveal His presence. Though unseen, all through life’s journey He is near us.

James Morgan, Nature Speaks

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