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 (Manna 64: Dealing with Calamities)
The God Who Hides Himself
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The God Who Hides Himself

Adapted from a sermon by H.H. KoHeidelberg, Germany

            How long, LORD? Will You hide Yourself forever? Will Your wrath burn like fire? (Ps 89:46)

            How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? How long will my enemy be exalted over me? (Ps 13:1–2)

The above words were part of David’s prayers in times of distress. His prayer may seem familiar to many of us. In our sorrows, we often cry out to God in the same manner, and yet, we seem unable to see God. Similar to the psalmist, we may have been wondering why God is not helping us in our sorrow, or why He is hiding Himself. But is God really hiding Himself?


Sometimes, while we are suffering, we may truly feel God has forsaken us. An inspirational Christian story tells us that a man once had a dream, in which he saw his whole life flash by. Many times throughout his life, he saw God’s footprints in the sand, next to his own. But during the most difficult times in his life, there would always only be one set of footprints. For this reason, he asked the Lord, “I don’t understand why, when I needed you most, you would leave me.” The Lord replied, “My precious, precious child, I love you and I would never leave you. During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.”

Whenever we are in sorrow and grief, God is actually carrying us—we just do not know it.

Having said that, why does God hide Himself while He carries us?


            The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law. (Deut 29:29)

Although we often cannot see God’s presence in times of trials, we need to continually put our faith and trust in Him. God may not have revealed to us why or how long we have to suffer, but He has revealed to us what we need to know to follow His commandments. It is up to us to obey what we know, even if we may not always understand.

When God commanded Isaiah to prophesy that Babylon would destroy the kingdom of Israel and carry God’s people away into captivity, he was puzzled. He could not understand why God would do such a thing to His own people. For this reason, Isaiah uttered a sigh from the bottom of his heart, “Truly You are God, who hide Yourself, O God of Israel, the Savior!” (Isa 45:15).
Although he could not understand God’s plan, Isaiah still went ahead to prophesy what God had commanded. Moreover, he acknowledged that God is the only Savior of Israel. In this way, he re-emphasized God’s message: "I am the LORD, and there is no other” (Isa 45:18)—although you may not understand why I am doing what I’m doing, I am the Almighty, I know what is best and I want you to trust in Me.
With this message, God not only intends to show His sovereignty and omnipotence; more importantly, He wants to reassure us of His wisdom and power, so that we can trust in and obey Him.


In times of trial, we do not only seek for God’s help but, very often, we also ask God for an answer: “Lord, why is this happening to me?” Many a time, we may not get answers from God, although we may have been praying very hard for understanding. During these moments, we must not be discouraged. Instead, we need to remember that God is sovereign—He is the King of kings and the Creator who reigns with absolute wisdom and authority. For this reason, He can choose not to answer us.

For so the LORD said to me, "I will take My rest, And I will look from My dwelling place Like clear heat in sunshine, Like a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest." (Isa 18:4)

Although it may seem as if God is not responding here, He is always watching us and working quietly in the background. During harvest time, good weather is essential. By providing sunshine and heat, God allows the reapers to bring in the harvest and to smoothly complete their work.

In fact, Solomon tells us that God makes all things beautiful in His time and for His reason.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end. (Eccl 3:11)

So, although we may not be able to comprehend God’s doings, and may not understand why we are suffering, we must continue to have faith in God. During the toughest moments in our lives, let us remember and trust in God’s great wisdom and deep love for us. Let us hold on to God, for “we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Rom 8:28).

A couple at one of our churches in northern Taiwan lost their two children within a short period of time. Although they were deeply grieved, they continued to pray to God because they knew that God is the only one who can control life. So they brought all their pain and tears to the Lord in prayer, and soon afterwards God comforted them in a miraculous way. Although the couple had already undergone infertilization, the wife conceived again and eventually gave birth to twins. Indeed, as long as we love God and hold on to His principles, God will listen to our heartfelt prayers—He will make all things beautiful in His time.


Paul too understood very well that life and death are in God’s hands. He thus acknowledged God in all his ways:

            But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord wills … (1 Cor 4:19)

            … But I hope to stay a while with you, if the Lord permits. (1 Cor 16:7)

When Paul said, “if the Lord wills”, he was neither weak-willed nor did he desire to push away responsibility. Instead, his words show that he knew God very well. He understood that God’s wisdom is far beyond his human comprehension and that God’s plan may well be different from his own. Consequently he did not dare to ignore God when he made his plans.

Today, have we acknowledged God’s sovereignty in our life? Do we acknowledge Him in all our ways and have we entrusted our entire life to Him?

            … You ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that." (Jas 4:5)


Although God often seems to hide Himself from us in our times of suffering, afflictions are the only way for us to eventually find and see God.

            And though the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your teachers will not be moved into a corner anymore, but your eyes shall see your teachers. (Isa 30:20)

In times of suffering, we may grow weary in faith and feel discouraged. However, we must continue in unceasing prayers to God, whatever may befall. Instead of seeking an answer, we need to seek God’s face.

            'And I will not hide My face from them anymore; for I shall have poured out My Spirit on the house of Israel,' says the Lord GOD. (Ezek 39:29)

When the Holy Spirit fills us, we will eventually find God. When His peace fills our hearts and we experience His abidance, we will finally see the Lord. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, God will open our spiritual eyes, just as He opened Job’s eyes after countless afflictions.

            Then Job answered the LORD and said: …

            "I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You”. (Job 42:1, 5)

After suffering so much affliction and pain, Job finally saw God.
He still did not understand why he went through all his sufferings. Yet, he saw and acknowledged his own insignificance as well the Lord’s sovereignty and omnipotence. Eventually, “the LORD blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning” (Job 42:12).

Let us therefore acknowledge God’s sovereignty and great wisdom. Let us commit ourselves into His almighty hand and trust Him unconditionally, for He surely knows what is best for us.

            And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. (Jer 29:13)

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Author: H.H. Ko