An encounter with the hiddenness of God may badly mislead. It may tempt us to see God as the enemy and to interpret God’s hiddenness as a lack of concern.
An incident in the life of a famous Bible character makes this point. The prophet Daniel had a mild–mild in comparison with Job’s–encounter with the hiddenness of God. Daniel puzzled over an everyday problem of unanswered prayer: why was God ignoring his repeated requests? For twenty one days Daniel devoted himself to prayer. He mourned. He gave up choice foods. He swore off meat and wine, and used no lotions on his body. All the while he called out to God, but received no answer.
Then one day Daniel got far more than he bargained for. A supernatural being, with eyes like flaming torches and a face like lightning, suddenly showed up on a riverbank beside him. Daniel’s companions all fled in terror. When he tried talking to the dazzling being, he could hardly breathe.
The visitor proceeded to explain the reason for the long delay. He had been dispatched to answer Daniel’s very first prayer, but had run into strong resistance from “the prince of the persian kingdom” Finally, after a three-week standoff, reinforcements arrived and Michael, one of the chief angels, helped him break through the opposition.
I will not attempt to interpret this amazing scene of the Universe at war, except to point out a parallel to Job. Like Job, Daniel played a decisive role in the warfare between cosmic forces of good and evil, though much of the action took place beyond his range of vision. To him, prayer may have seemed futile, and God indifferent; but a glimpse “behind the curtain” reveals exactly the opposite. Daniel’s limited perspective, like Job’s, distorted reality.
The big picture, with the whole universe as a backdrop, includes much activity that we never see. When we stubbornly cling to God in a time of hardship, or when we simply pray, more—much more–may be involved than we ever dream. it requires faith to believe that, and faith to trust that we are never abandoned, no matter how distant God seems.