Despite what you’ve been told, what you’ve read, or what you have been led to believe, the reality is: Jesus hides and sometimes cannot be found.
We’re all pretty familiar with the “Footprints in the Sand” poem. It paints the marvelous picture of a single set of footprints with the narrator asking Jesus where He was when the going got tough. Jesus answers, “That is when I carried you.”
Truth is, we all have moments like this. The down times when we pray and we can feel the presence of Christ moving us through the rough terrain or the spiritual desert we are running dry in.
But this is not always the case. In fact, it’s rare and I believe that is why the “Footprints in the Sand” poem is so touching and powerful for people. We need that dose of hope to continue on when all seems lost.
We wouldn’t need that dose of hope if Jesus never hid.
I’m currently in the middle of some serious self-work regarding abuse, neglect, and self-worth stemming from my childhood and teenage years. As a child, I had no concept of Christ or any way to process the physical and emotional abuse that was occurring and now that I am closing in on 30, I am finally beginning the work of reopening things and dealing with these events with the full blunt of what they really were.
I am told and encouraged to look for Christ in my life back then. For instances where I can see Him at work and as part of my life.
The truth is, He is nowhere to be found back then. He was hidden.
Sometimes in life, we face some horrible things. We stand before a mountain of pain, suffering, struggle, hurt, and uncertainty as we pray feverishly in anguish and agony for intervention and help from Christ. We pour our hearts out and fill the air with angst, hurt, and horror only to find no response.
We find that Christ has hidden Himself from us.
I was recently asked to preach on John 13 where we find Jesus washing the feet of the disciples. I only scratched the surface on my feelings on this passage due to time constraints, but perhaps, we can catch a glimpse of the Hidden Christ if we start here.
In the passage, Jesus gets on His hands and knees on the ground to wash the feet of those who followed Him. In doing so, He humbles Himself to the level of a house servant of His day. Perhaps we can look at this as Him making Himself hidden.
Let’s face it, a house servant was not a desirable position in society. They had no privileges, no voice, and went largely unnoticed unless those in charge of the home needed a task completed. In a way, they were hidden from the rest of society. And yet, as Jesus hides Himself in the washing of the disciple’s feet, He is still doing work.
He is doing the work of removing the filth and dirt of the disciples’ lives while hiding Himself in the role of a house servant.
What if we look elsewhere in Scripture?
How many times did Jesus retreat away from everyone?
Quite a few.
And yet, He never ceased being who He was and never ceased His work. He purposely hid Himself and, at the same time, never ceased doing His work. Never. Not once.
In fact, many times He would return from hiding and something HUGE would happen. Most notably, the disciples find themselves on the water in the midst of a storm in Matthew 14 and Jesus arrives on the scene. He invites Peter out onto the water in a test of faith and Peter accepts.
But what happened to Peter to make him so confident in Christ that Christ simply calling him by name to stand on roaring waters seemed possible?
Perhaps when Jesus hid Himself to pray, He was doing work to strengthen Peter. Peter may not have seen it or experienced it as they were caught in the storm. He may have thought Jesus abandoned him to death. The truth is that Jesus was doing work in Peter even when He wasn’t physically there, when He wasn’t standing side by side with Peter, when He wasn’t verbally talking to Peter.
Jesus hid and still did work in Peter.
We should be brave enough to admit that Jesus hides from us. We should be bold enough to address it, share it, and recognize that Jesus does hide for periods of time just when we need Him the most.
That’s the beauty of Christ. He does the work and the support in our lives in His hiddenness and the results are always enriching, powerful, and profound.
If we accept that when Christ taught the disciples the Lord’s Prayer, He meant it when He said “Thine is the glory” (Thine = God), then perhaps we can see that Jesus hides for very good reason: to communicate and petition with God on our behalf with a result that gives God the glory.
Jesus goes away sometimes.
But He never stops His work in us.