Why is God invisible? Why doesn’t he ‘appear’ in front of us? Even when he does appear, as he did plenty of times to the Israelites, he comes disguised as a pillar of cloud, a whisper, or a burning bush. Even Jesus – God in human form – wasn’t instantly recognisable after his resurrection. Why is so God hidden?
In short, God hides so we will seek him. He scatters a trail of breadcrumbs, enticing us to discover who scattered them.
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In the Talk
In this talk, given at Oxford Community Church earlier this month, I draw from the stories of Mary Magdalene, Cleopas, Peter and Thomas who all have Jesus appear to them after his resurrection. Through them I explore:
- The two great questions of the sceptic: Why does God remain hidden? (‘If God would just appear in front of me, then I would believe’), and If God is good, why is there suffering? (‘If he wants to stop it but can’t, he’s not powerful. If he can but won’t, he’s not good.’)
- The fact that these are not just the questions of the sceptic, but often of the believer who is experiencing life’s ‘shadows’ – prolonged seasons of grief, disappointment, shame or doubt.
- A surprising twist to these questions. God’s hiddenness and our suffering turn out to be the very ways in which God reveals himself to us.
- My next book Resurrection Year is out in just 6 weeks! Thank you to those who have already pre-ordered it. If we’re Facebook friends you would know that Merryn and I are planning something special for the May 28 launch. Make sure you’re on my email list to take part when it happens!
- The More Than This podcast is now available on Zune, Stitcher, TunedIn, Blackberry Podcasts, FaithVillage and other podcast apps and websites.
You may find the following links and resources helpful:
- Talk: Holding onto God through the Dark Night of Doubt
- Blog: Rethink Your Thinking on Suffering
- Podcast: How Pain Can Lead Us to God
- Book: Disappointment with God by Philip Yancey
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