If our Father chastens and corrects those He loves, then Psalm 30 gives us a glimpse of what that can look like. The Psalm begins and ends with praise and victory, but between the alpha and omega of the Psalm are highest highs and lowest lows.
“I will extol You, O Yahweh, for You have lifted me up, and have not let my enemies rejoice over me. O Yahweh my God, I cried to You for help, and You healed me. O Yahweh, you have brought up my soul from Sheol; You have kept me alive, that I would not go down to the pit.” [30:1-3].
While the idea of “enemies” is introduced in verse 1 as the cause of trouble, in the rest of the psalm we read, “…for His anger is but for a moment…You hid Your face, I was dismayed.” It is not only enemies which are the source of David’s distress; it is Yahweh Himself who is causing David trouble.
Sometimes it looks like God plays “hide and seek” – one moment His presence is palpable and the next it is as if He left town with no forwarding address. At times we sense His presence in the house but we don’t know what room He is in and at other times He has His out-of-office message on. What we believe about our Father and Lord Jesus matters, it really really matters when life mirrors Psalm 30 – do we believe the words of God that “I will never leave you or forsake you”?
I was reminded earlier this week that one of the reasons our Father corrects us and applies pressure and suffering to our lives is that we might be “partakers of His holiness” (Hebrews 12:10). God’s hide-and-seek has purpose, it is intentional – if He hides will we seek? If He applies pressure to our lives will we submit to the hands of the Potter?
In Psalm 139 the psalmist writes, “If I make my bed in Sheol You are there.” We don’t take anything away from hell by acknowledging that we can experience hell on earth anymore than we take anything away from heaven by experiencing moments of heaven on earth. While we may not understand these experiences intellectually, while we may not be able to explain their ins and outs (and more often than not we do better not to attempt explanations – after all, Paul didn’t know if he was in or out of the body when he was caught up to the third heaven), those who follow Jesus will most certainly experience the hide-and-seek of God.
One of the great lessons of God’s hide-and-seek is that He was there all the time, we just didn’t see Him. When He says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you,” He means it. Because He means what He says, because God’s promises are sure and certain, even when our natural eyes cannot see our hands in front of our face our soul can trust our Father and Lord Jesus to care for us, to lead us, to love us, and to keep us – we can live secure in the Cross with an eternal future in Jesus Christ.
When humans play hide and seek we play it to hide from one another, the player who cannot be found wins the game; when God plays hide and seek He plays to be found, He plays to reveal Himself. Man is perpetually hiding behind fig leaves – God is perpetually unveiling Himself: “No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him,” John 1:18.
If you are in the midst of a game of hide-and-seek with God today, know for certain that His goal is for you to trust Him and in that trusting to find Him.