I am listening to Manifestation and Hiddenness by Graham Cooke this morning. Danita actually gave this to me when I was still pregnant with Samuel, but I knew it had something to do with the hiddenness of God, which has been a maddening topic to me. I saved it until I was ready to listen. And this morning, I was ready.
It’s tough to be in a time of profound loss and hear from others that in their time of loss, God was so close. I cannot count the number of times I have heard that. The reality is that I have not felt the presence of God through this trial. Since December 4, I have heard from God once. One time. In this profound loss, and never have I felt farther from God’s presence. The one time I heard from God during this season is when I was still pregnant and weeping over my sick son. I asked God, the God who is supposed to be close to the brokenhearted, “Why, of all times, are you not HERE?”
And I saw the Cross in my mind’s eye and heard, “Never has your heart been closer to Mine.”
I remember when Samuel was born, and they laid him on my chest to hold, I thought, I am a mother. Then my labor and delivery nurse turned to the delivering perinatalogist and said, “Megan is a writer.” In those moments, everything I was everything I know I was made to be. In the weeks that followed, I buried the little boy who made me a mother. I wrote entries on a blog that now has an audience of eight. I am but I’m not. There is something bigger happening, and it is uncomfortable.
In the sermon, Graham Cooke says, “In manifestation we are reveling in experience…In hiddeness He withdraws…He withdraws from our emotions in order to connect in a deeper way with the inner man of the Spirit… He wants to draw us into this place where we learn to walk by faith.” I was not given the experience of God’s presence in this time. My son died–no miracle was manifested. My heart could not sense God’s presence and was given but one statement to hang onto as I navigate this valley: never have I been closer to His heart.
So why was God so far away?
I love the part of the sermon that talks about how saints in a season of hiddenness are treated by the church in contrast to the treatment of saints in a season of manifestation. They’re taken to a separate place to be delivered from evil. Even in less charismatic expressions of the Church, if the believer is not seeing some manifestation of God’s presence, whether it be in physical healing or the feeling of fulfillment in worship, he is encouraged to search rather than hide. Seek God. And surely we should seek God, but there is a seeking that is done in hiddenness. It seeks God for His presence, not for His manifestation. It does not assume that because we found invisible treasures, God is absent.
I am tired of one thing after another falling apart. I am tired of feeling the weight of brokenness. I am tired of trials. I don’t feel God’s presence. I see no manifestation. I never feel God’s presence. But I know I am called to a time of hiddenness. I know He is here. I don’t feel it but He is.
People tell me I’ll have more children. People tell me no more bad things will happen to us, as though we’ve reached our quota. If there were a quota, we’ve reached it. But there isn’t. These assurances are not a comfort to me. I don’t know what God has planned for me. But I do know that if I never see the manifestation of God’s presence again, He is still here in hiddenness, as I seek refuge. This is my only comfort. I hope I see manifestation. I hope I get to hold a squirming baby in my arms. I hope God finally sees fit to prosper us. I hope God brings healing. And for the power in hiddenness that I have come to know, His manifestations will be made all the more powerful. But if I never see those things in this life, I will not be waiting for Him to show up. I will know that He already has.
As for me, the nearness of God is my good;
I have made the Lord GOD my refuge,
That I may tell of all Your works.