From the March/April 2019 issue of Discern Magazine

Searching for God

“God, where are you?” he typed into the search engine. Millions of others have wondered the same thing. Why does God seem hard to find? What do we need to do to find Him?

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He sat at his new computer, considering how to best phrase his question.

He was Indian and, you could say, a minority within a minority. That is, he was part of the barely 2 percent of people classified as Christians in India’s Hindu-dominated culture. In addition, after years of studying his Bible and finding within it many contradictions to what he had always believed, he was also growing more and more distant from even those of his own faith.

While his faith in religions had been shaken, his faith in God remained firm, but … where was He? What did God want him to know, to do?

Finally, not knowing where else to go, he typed into the Internet search engine this simple question: “Where are you, God?”

Before you start searching

It’s a common question, a great question, one many people ask for many different reasons. It’s a search often triggered by times of trouble, when we are looking for help or encouragement. Sometimes it springs from doubt, when we’re needing assurance God really exists, really cares. It may come from intellectual curiosity, trying to comprehend big questions, such as the purpose for our existence. Even unbelievers and cynics pose the question, “Where is God when there is so much evil and suffering?” trying to cast doubt on whether He exists or cares.

What about you? Are you searching for God?

If so, two big questions need to be settled before you embark on your search. One involves critical understanding about God and His history with humanity. This two-part article series begins by focusing on this first question. The answer to the second question will determine whether you have any chance of finding Him.

Question 1: Can you find God if He’s hiding?

Is God hard to find because He’s playing some great cosmic game of hide-and-seek with us? In a way, yes—He tells us, in fact, that He is hiding—but it’s certainly no game.

Multiple prophets, speaking to God’s chosen people Israel, told them He had gone into hiding. “Truly You are God, who hide Yourself,” Isaiah said. They were facing huge troubles, so why would God do that?

The people “shall go to seek the LORD, but they will not find Him,” Hosea wrote, explaining, “He has withdrawn Himself from them.” Yet another prophet, Micah, said, “Then they will cry to the LORD, but He will not hear them; He will even hide His face from them at that time.”

Why would God hide and not show Himself to those searching for Him?

Micah answered that question, summarizing the fractured relationship humanity in general has had with God since creation: “Because they have been evil in their deeds” (Micah 3:4).

Look at it from God’s point of view. A consistent lesson in the Bible is the dismal track record we humans have in our relationship with Him. You can understand if God is more than a little skeptical when it comes to our saying we want to know Him.

Who hid first?

It started with Adam and Eve. God created them, communicated with them, taught them, loved them, warned them about the danger of taking of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil—yet they coldly ignored Him and followed after Satan.

And what did they do when “they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden”? “Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God” (Genesis 3:8, emphasis added throughout).

Who hid first? Not God!

He offered, time and again, to reconnect with His children. When Israel cried out to Him in their bondage, He answered, “Here I am,” delivered them from slavery, gave them a home and promised to bless them in every way. What He justifiably expected in return was their respect and obedience. But for over 800 years Israel and Judah repeatedly rejected God, seeking Him only to bail them out of trouble.

Later God revealed Himself even more directly, sending His Son in the flesh into a very religious culture. But He met with continual resistance and hostility from people who only wanted to relate to God on their terms, not His. Ironically, the people who were most stubborn and unwilling to listen were the religious leaders!

Jesus labeled them hypocrites because “‘this people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men” (Mark 7:6-8).

Sad to say, ever since He gave that stinging indictment, the trend has worsened! We should not be surprised because it was Jesus Himself who also warned, “For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ, and shall deceive many” (Matthew 24:5, King James Version)!

You can’t find God in the dark

Note Christ’s emphasis—not a few, but many will come. Many will be deceived by people using His name, claiming to represent Him! Religious deception, He said, would stand as a major sign of the end of the age! Look around, as the man in India did, at all of the contradictory and often contentious churches of Christianity today and ask yourself, “Was His prophecy true?”

No one wants to think, or be told, they are deceived. These words still shock and offend people today as much as they did then. But God’s Word makes it clear that basically the whole world today lies in spiritual darkness, blinded to Him and His truth.No one wants to think, or be told, they are deceived. These words still shock and offend people today as much as they did then. But God’s Word makes it clear that basically the whole world today lies in spiritual darkness, blinded to Him and His truth.

Why? Again, Jesus Himself gave the hard truth in John 3:19: “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” He continued in the next verse, “For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.”

So, yes, humanity struggles along in the darkness of deception, because of choices—both ours and God’s.

Paul, in Romans 1:21, summed up humanity’s choice: “Because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”

“They did not like to retain God in their knowledge,” so God “gave them over” or “gave them up” to do whatever they chose to do (verses 24, 28).

So, yes, God has allowed the darkness of deception to settle in and, in effect, hide Him from humanity.

But that doesn’t mean God has given up on us. His promises remain that Christ is going to return, that His truth will be made clear, that humanity is not lost eternally, that God will be known. Please read our booklets From Holidays to Holy Days: God’s Plan for You and The Mystery of the Kingdom to understand the full scope of God’s work of salvation.

Between now and then, though, can God be found by anyone? The answer is yes, if …

Our part and God’s part in the search

Paul stated to the Greek philosophers in Athens that God had made “from one blood every nation of men … so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:26-27).

God wants us to find Him, but for thousands of years He has seen billions of people offering Him lip service only. Are you one of the rare people willing to truly “seek the Lord,” to genuinely “grope for Him and find Him”—really wanting to know Him and His way and, unlike most, willing to obey Him? That’s your part of the search.

But God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son also have Their parts to play, without which our search is futile. They must draw and reveal.

Think deeply about Jesus’ statement, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws [leads, impels] him” (John 6:44).

Couple that with what we read in Matthew 11:27: “No one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.”

Few today seem to grasp what He was saying! No one, He says several times, can come to Christ or know God unless God chooses to draw him or Christ reveals the Father to him!

Okay, let’s say God does “call” you—another term used in the Bible to refer to God’s drawing a person. What happens then?

That depends on the answer to the second big question. The first question we have examined in this article is, “Can you find God if He’s hiding?” The second question is just as important: “Can God find you if you’re hiding?”

We will look deeply into this in “Searching for God, Part 2” in the next issue of Discern, and also finish the story of our Indian friend!

About the Author

Clyde Kilough

Clyde Kilough

Clyde Kilough is the Media operation manager for the Church of God, a Worldwide Association, overseeing all of its media outreach programs including Life, Hope & Truth and Discern magazine.

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Christ Versus Christianity
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Christianity in Progress
Wonders of God's Creation
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