One of the hardest and probably my least favorite aspects of being a Christian is when I feel God is too hard on me. Now, really is there such a thing? No, not really, but we tend to think that He is. According to Dr. Chuck Swindoll, there are two reasons why God does what He does: to draw us closer to Him and to conform us to the likeness of His Son. Dr. David Jerimiah has said in reference to the time of his life when he battled cancer that he had hoped God would make him to be what he needed to be without all the struggle. No Christian gets off that easily. It’s a pruning and growing process.
There are times when we feel that God has treated us unfairly in relation to the life we are living. Job was a godly man and Satan had a field day with him. David was a man after God’s own heart and he often cried out for God’s justice on his enemies. Moses was a friend of God and his anger kept him out of the Promised Land. Abraham walked with God and didn’t see all the promises fulfilled in his lifetime. Surely these super-saints should have gotten a little more leeway. There were times in each one of these men’s lives where God the Father was silent, absent, or just plain hid Himself from them. Even on the cross, Jesus, like David cried out, “My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me?”
Jesus hid Himself from people too. Several times He hid Himself from his own disciples. He hid himself from the Pharisees and from the crowds; once when they tried to stone Him and once when they tried to make him king of Israel. Dr. James Dobson says that God will even go so far in hiding Himself that we will feel abandoned. It is at these times that we cry out “Where are you God?” or complain that “This is not fair.”
It all makes us ask why? If God is trying to make us more like His Son, which it would make us more like Him and/or He is trying to draw us closer to Him; isn’t there an easier way? Easier is not the issue, better is. If there was a better way, a more correct way, then God being God would have chosen that. There always seems to be an easier way out, but it is usually a cheaper result. God wants what is best, not what is the cheapest or the easiest. Part of the Christian walk is faith. When it seems that God is far away, silent, hidden, or has just plain abandoned us, we must have faith that He knows what is best, what He is doing, and He has not really abandoned us. Sometimes that is easier said than done and God knows this. Many people don’t like this answer and use it as a reason not to follow God or say it is a cop out. Just because we don’t like the truth, doesn’t make it any less true.
It starts with a relationship. If you don’t know God as your Father or Jesus as your Savior then what God does with your life is designed to draw you closer to Him. He wants a relationship with you. He cannot make you like Himself if you are not first part of the family of God. If you are part of His family then He works to make you more and more to become the part of the family that you were meant to be. Sometimes that may be accomplished by Him hiding from you.
I remember being a father when my children were small. When they tried things that were out of their comfort zone, they wanted me right there with them. I knew that being there all the time was not good for them. You have seen these types of parents. Lately, I have heard them referred to as helicopter parents. They are always hovering over their children and never letting their children grow into adults. There were times I purposely hid myself from my children, but I kept them within my sight. There were times they had to be independent and there were times they needed to know they couldn’t do things on their own. My children didn’t know it, but I did. Our children will never grow if we don’t step back and let them. We will never grow if God doesn’t do the same. Like my children, I don’t always like it when He does, but I have learned to trust Him.
There are times that God is weeding out the non-committed ones. Jesus did this by telling a large crowd in a public place if they wanted to get to heaven they would have to eat his flesh and drink his blood. Not exactly the best way to win friends and influence people. Actually he offended the people who walked away and stopped following Him. He wanted the committed ones; those who no matter what would follow Him. A little later on He allowed the disciples to battle a hurricane force storm in the Sea of Galilee for a while before He came to them and calmed the storm. He asked them where was their faith.
It would look like on the surface that Jesus and the Father both enjoy toying with people, but that is a superficial look. No, those who truly have walked with God any length and depth of time will still tell you that through it all, God is faithful and has always been there. They will tell you God has kept the promise to never abandon or forsake us, because their faith has been so tried and strengthened that they too, like Job can say of God “though He slay me, still I will trust Him.” Nowhere is it written that I have to enjoy the journey, nor do I have to like it, yet through it all I trust and love God because of it. Even when it seems God has hid Himself, He is still God and He still loves me.
There are two great books that explore this subject further: When God Doesn’t Make Sense by Dr. James Dobson and The Bend in the Road by Dr. David Jeremiah.