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Why does God hide from us?

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Why does God hide from us?

I remember a poster in our RE classroom at school that featured a cat in a tree (what was it with cats in those posters?) and the words, ‘Does God seem far away?  Guess who moved?’  Now sometimes, that’s fair comment.  We do wander away from God and let other gods drift in and take his place.  At other times, though, God seems far away despite our constant fidelity.  Why is that?  Dom Augustin Guillerand in The Prayer of the Presence of God, ch.18, states that God hides from us because he loves to be found; ‘He likes us to seek Him and go on seeking Him‘.

Now rather a lot of ‘hide and seek’ goes on in our house.  It’s all well and good as long as all the participants are happy to play, but sometimes the seeker gets dispirited or fed up looking and then it’s no longer fun.  Perhaps because of this, Dom Guillerand’s explanation of why God hides seems almost cruel.

It was our youngest child who shed light on the ‘hide & seek’ theory for me.  One morning, she came stumbling towards me, looking very pleased with herself because she was able to walk half a dozen steps in a row before falling into Mummy’s arms.  I remembered a few months previously, when she seemed ready to walk and I stood her up then stepped just out of her reach.  Unsure of herself, she needed much encouragement, but she did eventually take those first steps.  Hugs, kisses, applause… then I’d retreat further – you get the idea – and in that moment, I understood.

God is Our Father and we are his wobbly toddlers.  He’s not hiding just for the thrill of watching us search.  He hides – or withdraws from us a little – to encourage us to draw even closer to him… and perhaps to encourage us to look for him in different places.  ‘The dying, the cripple, the mentally ill, the unwanted, the unloved– they are Jesus in disguise’, said Mother Teresa.  God has confidence in us, even when we’re unsure of ourselves, because he knows us better than we know ourselves.  We need to seek him out and – upon finding him – step towards him in confidence, knowing that he will never ask anything of us without giving us the grace necessary for its accomplishment.

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