In The Imitation of Christ, Thomas a Kempis talks about the grace of consolation – the fact that sometimes we are acutely aware of God’s presence. But he also recognizes that much of the time we are not aware of God’s presence. So what do we do when we ask “where’s God?”
The dark night of the soul. A period of struggle. Futilely seeking the truth. Whatever you want to call it, we all go through periods when God feels distant. Yet if we talk to most people about it, we generally hear something like this: “God is not distant, you just have your back to him – turn around and you will see him right there!” Granted, if we have sin in our lives we distance ourselves from God but is that the only possibility?
I think we need to admit as Christians that God may play hide and seek. Our tendency to think that God must always be readily available for our every spiritual need seems, in fact, rather self-centered. God is God, after all and we are not. So where’s God? Maybe, the reality is that he’s hiding and it’s not just a matter of “turning around” that will reveal him to us. Maybe he’s calling us to a deep search for him – a search that will make us love harder, look deeper and wonder.
I’m convinced God loves wonder; it’s the highest of praise – the admission through action that we just do not understand. Yet so often we try to squelch wonder by calling it “doubt” and suppressing it lest we prove to have too little faith. I wonder what would happen if next time I felt God’s absence I simply wondered about it and remained in awe of a God who knows what’s best for me and whose Spirit leads me through my days. Perhaps those times of “darkness” would become times of light in which I began to understand God better, love harder and grow in faith.