Maya, our cat, loves to hide. This photograph shows her hiding under an old blanket, her favorite hiding place. When I visited my little niece and nephew in Germany this year their favorite game was hide-and-seek. For some reason the oldest of children’s games is still very popular. While playing games and hiding out is fun, a hiding God is an entirely different matter. Have you ever been in a situation where you were wondering: “Where on earth is God?” Welcome to the club of God-seekers!
If you have ever been in trouble or witnessed someone close to you in trouble, then you also know the feeling of helplessness creeping in when nothing seems to work – especially after praying (sometimes viewed as the last resort). The Psalmist in chapter 10 of the book of Psalms voices frustration praying something in the lines of: “God why do you stand so far away? I’m over here! Why is it that you seem farthest away when I need you most?”
We have a mysterious God and we have to come to terms with the fact that not everything about Him can be explained. I believe this is a good thing even though it drives me crazy at times. Our God is an awesome God who has lived longer than you and I, longer than this universe, longer than anything He has created; He has lived forever – you get the picture. He has done more things than we can ever imagine and His feelings are deeper than the bottomless sea. With that in mind, can we appreciate His complexity? And we have not even touched on the Trinity yet. If you think you have figured out God, think again. On a smaller scale I’m not even sure that human beings can be figured out. There’s this tendency to typecast people. You see a certain behavior pattern and then you start predicting behavior. Good luck with that! Have you ever tried to have a close relationship with someone that way? Figuring a person out is certainly not the way to do it. The movie Groundhog Day plays off of that notion when one of the main characters in the movie is trying to win a girl’s favor by memorizing all her likes and dislikes in an effort to create a perfect day for her. Spoiler alert (if you haven’t watched that movie yet): it does not work!
If figuring out people won’t work, much less figuring out God; where does this leave us when we are frustrated with God’s apparent nonchalance? The best we can do is to hang in there. We have multiple Bible stories with examples of people who chose not to wait and took matters in their own little hands. The result is almost always disastrous. Just this morning I read about Jacob’s grown-up kids who took matters into their own hands when they avenged their sister Dinah’s rape by killing off the entire male population in that area. Reality check: all the males are killed because one male committed a crime and raped a close relative. Disproportionate?! Yes. This happens when emotions are clouding sound judgement.
Emotions may also cloud my perception of God. In any event, there is no recipe of how to get through tough times with people around me creating problems and a God who seems so far away. I’m a firm believer of venting in the privacy of my prayer closet. That’s what the Psalmist did, and that’s what gets me through tough times. If venting to God prevents you from doing something stupid, your prayer is already working. God listens and He always answers – you guessed it: He answers in most surprising ways!