“Why, O Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?“ (Psalm 10:1, NIV)
Have you ever asked that question? You and I phrase it differently: “God, where are you?” Vere tu es Deus absconditus (truly you are a hidden God) said Pascal. Isaiah said the same thing (Isa. 45:15).
Why is the God who fills the universe sometimes hard to find? Our circumstances.
In Psalm 10, David couldn’t see God because he was looking at the prosperity of the wicked. In Isaiah 45, the prophet was looking at the strength of the Egyptians. When we’re looking at bad circumstances, it isn’t as easy to see God.
What’s a circumstance? The Latin root from the 13th Century refers to the “outskirts” or that which stands around something – the non-essentials. These things might look bad (or good for that matter), but they don’t tell the whole story. That’s why, in our justice system, we don’t convict on circumstantial evidence. This type of evidence doesn’t prove anything, it relies on inference and interpretation…and we can easily get those wrong.
I’m going to try and remember this the next time I’m sure my circumstances will do me in…the next time I don’t see God’s hand at work. He’s hidden, but only in the sense that I’m looking in the wrong place. I’m looking at my circumstances instead of him.