“Truly, you are a God who hides himself, O God of Israel, the Savior.” -Isaiah 45:15 ESV
My dog can become frantic when she loses the scent of a rabbit or some other creature trying to elude her. With her nose to the ground she zig-zags through through the overgrown brush and weeds seeking the scent which originally started her on her quest.
Does God ever intentionally seek to elude us by going down some rabbit trail, a path familiar to him, yet strange to us with its twists and turns? If so, how are we to handle these seasons of God "hiding"? And how can we coach others through these times, helping them to maintain perspective and hope?
Personally, I've come to seasons in life when God seems to be hiding, distant and beyond reach. I somehow lose the "scent" which attracted me to His call in the beginning. At one point I was hot on the trail, only to discover the place or situation I now find myself in is disturbingly void of His presence. Doubt invading my heart and mind, I wonder, Was I chasing the wrong thing altogether?
Much of the confusion we deal with when God seems to be hiding is connected to our perspective. The following tips can help us and our clients discover that God is not playing a cruel game of hide and seek, nor has He forgotten. Rather, God's hiding is:
1. Temporary- This is a simple yet powerful reminder when one is feeling ignored by God. Some good coaching questions may be, How have seasons similar to the one you're now experiencing turned out in the past? In what ways have you known God to be faithful? What hopeful outcome can you envision on the other side of this trial?
2. An Invitation- When God seems absent, I like to think that He is inviting us into His own version of "hide and seek." A disillusioned individual may need to be reminded of God's invitation with questions such as, In this challenging season, what new thing might God be inviting you into? What about His character is he waiting to show you?
3. Purposeful- Upon receiving word that Lazarus was sick and dying, Jesus stayed away two more days (John 11:6). From this and other examples in scripture we see that God, at times, denies our cries for immediate relief in order to accomplish His greater purposes. Our clients may be challenged by the question, How might God want to use His silence in your life now in order to fulfill His greater purposes later?
Let's Never Forget
Whether the trail has become cold due to some wrong turn of our own, or whether God is purposely staying out of sight for a time, one thing is sure: He is never far off. He may hide, but He has promised to never leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5-6).
Photo Source: Bill Buckley, fieldandstream.com