by: Scott Little
“Why, O Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” – Psalm 10:1
Have you ever experienced the silence of God? Have you ever cried out to the throne of Heaven seeking help or counsel, wanting to know God’s will and direction, only to hear silence in return? It’s frustrating to seek God’s help, or His wisdom or direction, and get no response.
I imagine that’s what the Psalmist was feeling while composing Psalm 10. Right out of the gate, without any preliminary niceties, without introductory words of praise or thanksgiving, the Psalmist just cries out in frustration. In The Message, verse 1 reads: “God, are you avoiding me? Where are you when I need you?” Pretty blunt!
In verses 2-11 the Psalmist goes on to further express concern, anger, and frustration to God. It seems that injustice and wickedness are winning the day. The world is being turned upside-down by oppressors, and those who fear God are scrambling for cover, being “crushed and humiliated”. Verse 12 is an exasperated cry for God to do something: “Arise, Lord! Lift up your hand, O God. Do not forget the helpless.”
Why does it sometimes seem that God is silent when we most want to hear from Him? Why does it sometimes seem that God hides when we most want or need to feel His presence?
Some time ago, after reading Psalm 10, I was wondering about God’s silence and God’s hiding, and as I was wrestling with those questions I started thinking back to childhood memories of playing “Hide & Go Seek” with my friends (confession: I still like to play it with my grandkids). You know the game – one person is designated to be “it”, the seeker, while everyone else goes and hides in an effort to be the last one found, or better yet, not to be found at all.
I remembered what it was like to be “it”, trying desperately to find the other kids. I’d seek high and low, far and wide. The search was intense. Everything else in the world faded completely away as I listened carefully for the slightest noise – whispering, giggling, shuffling, breathing – sound of any kind. My eyes became alert for signs of movement, anything that appeared out of the ordinary. All my senses were on full alert, looking for clues no matter how small. It didn’t matter what else was going on around me. There was the noise of passing traffic and barking dogs and singing birds. There was the movement of the wind in the trees and the neighbors in their yard and the clouds passing overhead. But I didn’t hear or see any of that, because I was riveted on the task of seeking, giving it my whole attention. My hiding friends, by their very absence and silence, had arrested my attention away from everything and everyone else.
Thinking about those bygone days playing hide & seek, it occurred to me that God may “hide” from us at times because He knows that we need the intense focus that comes from seeking Him. Some of the most intense, authentic, and powerful language in all of Scripture is recorded by those in the midst of that kind of searching – searching for help, searching for answers, searching for God. Psalm 10, in fact, is exactly that kind of Psalm. The result of the Psalmist’s anguished cry in verse 1 is that he turns his full attention to God in prayer in the rest of the Psalm.
So maybe part of the answer to the Psalmist’s question in Psalm 10:1 is that sometimes God knows that what we most need isn’t immediate answers or quick resolution, but rather to have our attention drawn away from ourselves and onto Him. What if God’s “hiddenness” is His way of trying to draw us closer to Himself by inviting us into an intense game of Hide & Seek?
If God seems silent to you right now, or seems to be hiding or far off, I encourage you to pay close attention, to tune in and to start seeking intensely. You’re probably closer to “finding” Him than you think!