prophet, Isaiah, writes, "Truly, Thou art a God who hides Himself, O God of Israel, Savior!" (45:15) Why would God hide Himself from us, especially as He shortly afterward says, "Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God and there is no other." (verse 22) In one sense, God will always be hidden from us, for He is infinite and we are finite. Can you or I ever see the Pacific Ocean? Standing on the shore, we can see only a tiniest sliver of its surface and scarcely any of its depth. Even if we were perched on the Space Lab looking down on it we could never take in the whole of it in one glace for as one part came into view the other part would disappear around the curvature of the earth. Likewise, though in an infinitely greater way, we can never even begin to apprehend the totality of God's being. But also, as with seeing the Pacific Ocean, we can see a bit of God at a time. That is what shall occupy us throughout eternity in the kingdom of heaven.
But the text (Isaiah 45:15) says that God hides Himself. God cannot help being hidden from us because He cannot help being infinite. In what sense, then, does God hide Himself from us? Because we are made in the finite likeness of God, we are capable of knowing Him, of having a personal relationship with Him. Jesus states, in His prayer, "And this is eternal life, that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent." (John 17:3) If life eternal, our highest good, comes from knowing God as He is in Himself and as He has revealed Himself through Jesus Christ, why would God at any time choose to hide Himself from us?
Here we come to the mystery of God's way with us. He knows our psychology because He made us. He knows that we place more value on what is scarce than on what is abundant. Why is a small gold nugget worth a lot more than a large rock? It is because rocks are much more plentiful than deposits of gold. Gold is not only rare but beautiful. It is somewhat useful but if all the visible gold were removed from the earth we would not be too much inconvenienced. God, however, is infinitely beautiful and infinitely necessary to our good. Without Him we perish. Those in hell, deprived of His companionship, will languish in eternal misery, for we were made for Him. Not that they will want God but they will forever desire the happiness and wholeness that only a relationship with God can provide.
We are foolish creatures who continually choose the things that will never satisfy us and refuse the fellowship of the One Being whose love alone fulfills the soul's deepest longings. To overcome the foolishness of us finite and fallen creatures, God gives us a completely gracious taste of Himself, completely unbidden and unexpected. As God says, "I revealed Myself to those who did not ask for Me; I was found by those who did not seek me." (Isaiah 65:1) I well remember occasions, prior to my conversion, when God gave me a brief peek at His goodness and glory. I was not seeking Him. In fact, I was in rebellion against Him. Nevertheless, He tapped me on the shoulder, as it were, and said, "Here I am! Come to Me!" Can you not think of such times also? Try to remember, for they did happen. Even if you cannot remember, I believe with all my heart that God did reveal Himself to you. Perhaps you did not realize it was God. Some bolt of joy, some intimation of love, some sense of hope sprang up in your heart. It may have been through secondary sources, such as nature or a friend or a good book or a successful accomplishment, but something else came with it that was from beyond this world. Perhaps it made you pause and wonder if God really is there and really cares.
Then why does that sense go so swiftly away, especially after we have opened our heart to Him? Why doesn't it endure? There are many answers to that question that we do not have space for here, but one of them is that God wants us to chase after Him! It is not just hide, but hide and seek. God shows Himself to us and then disappears, not in order to leave us perplexed but to beckon us forward. His promise then, to us, is: "And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. And I will be found by you." (Jeremiah 29:13, 14a) God is always with us but our sense of His presence and conscious enjoyment of His companionship may experience gaps. During the times when God seems far away or unreal, it is an opportunity for both our faith and our zeal to grow stronger. Like the Shulammite woman in the Song of Solomon, we should say, "On my bed night after night I sought him whom my soul loves; I sought him but did not find him. I must arise now and go about the city; in the streets and in the squares I must seek him whom my soul loves." After looking all over the city, she asks the watchmen, "Have you seen him whom my soul loves?" Then comes the joy of reunion: "Scarcely had I left them when I found him whom my soul loves; I held on to him and would not let him go." (3:1-4a) When we find Him again, it is with a greater appreciation, a deeper apprehension, of the infinite value of knowing God.God is inviting us on a journey on a long and winding road. Many a time He disappears around the bend so that we will hurry to catch up with Him and enjoy the new vistas opening up before us. Again, God never actually leaves us. It is our ability to feel His closeness that varies. When we do not feel Him, He is still there, just as close as ever. Do not take this as a reason to give up your relationship with Him but as an invitation to seek Him more than ever so that you may come to a higher and better enjoyment of Him than you have ever had before!