Why is God so Hard to find?
Updated: Dec 23, 2021
"You should act more responsibly, God, with all that gorgeousness you possess." — Mira
One of the most challenging paradoxes about God is the way he manifests himself in the world. His presence, and thus, the fulness of everything he is, is both ubiquitous and obscure. He’s everywhere, and nowhere. Easy to see, but nearly impossible to find.
Beauty is his calling card; wonder, his perfume. Look at any mountain, any river, any tree, any face, and you will find him there, smiling back at you, in love. But reach for him, try to grab hold of him, and he disperses on the breeze like a cloud of dandelion seeds. He hides. He makes himself an echo of a song you can’t quite recall, a flicker of movement in the corner of your eye.
Many an atheist is born of God’s elusiveness. “If he were God,” they say, “if he were really a benevolent God, if he were love, wouldn't he make himself obvious? Wouldn't he show up like a pillar of fire at the top of the world that cannot be ignored? A loving God, a real God, would see how much pain and suffering his obscurity is causing, and make himself plain.”
I have made the same arguments, many times, right to his face. From a distance, he cannot be missed. Up close, he cannot be found.
Except, he can. God can be found.
There a way to find him. He’s already told every one of us how:
“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 19:13).
I cannot pretend to know all of God’s secrets. I can't explain why he does even a fraction of the things he does. Black holes, for example. The speed of light. Monarch butterflies. Cicadas. Quantum uncertainty. Gravity.
But here is a thing I have noticed in my time with him. He is in love, in love with us. That makes him vulnerable, as all real love does. He feels our suffering, acutely. My pain is his pain. Your pain is his pain. Multiply that by billions, and you begin to get just the faintest sense of the scale of his connection to us. In the thunder of a single word he could make himself inescapable. He could show up as something great and terrible (yet, it would still be very small compared to what he really is), and stop all the suffering in the world, all the war and hate and disease and pain. He could. And if he did, we would worship him. We would be grateful. We would think: This is Salvation.
But he would know, in that moment he would know, that from that moment on, we could never grow into the fulness of what we might be. We would never become what it is in us to become. Why? Because of how he made us to grow:
It’s through overcoming that we become.
His love for us runs much too deep to rob us of that gift.
I know this explanation can sound trite. I know it doesn't make sense on the ground—not when you’re the one suffering, not when your child is the one suffering. But consider: How much pain would you allow your child to go through, how much suffering would you endure alongside them, if you knew that intervening and calling a halt to it all would damn them to never become the whole, beautiful person they were meant to be?