I often hear how some of the saints suffered loneliness in its deepest sense and even to the point that they feel God has left them. So in my own prayer life, I often wonder, whether God is even there listening to me or whether He has hidden himself from me. It isn’t that I don’t believe in the existence of God, but as a believer, I often question why God would hide himself from us?
Last week, I was assigned to observe a kindergarten class for my teaching assignment, and it was there that the game of hide and go seek stood out to me in a different and new way. All these years, all my experiences of playing hide and go seek as a child and with other children were never as meaningful and as powerful as this new instance. All the kids hid, and one was assigned to find everyone as usual, but after playing for about 4 rounds of the game, the 5th child whose turn it was to find everyone, began to cry and stood on the same spot after opening his eyes. He seemed shocked and scared that everyone had left, so he cried out until the teacher came to him. I found this interesting; here was a child who had played 4 rounds of hide and go seek already and who had hidden himself together with the others, but when it was his turn to close his eyes and begin his search, he was paralyzed in finding an empty room; to him, he was alone and abandoned.
In our own life, we go through each day busy and focused on a great number of things for a great number of people. We encounter our husband or wife once we wake; we encounter our children once we leave the room then our neighbor as we leave the house then a throng of vehicles on the road which leads us to that massive building of people. We are seldom alone, at least physically; yet, for the majority of us, we are alone and we feel abandoned by those whom we thought loved us.
Why is it that we suffer this deep loneliness? Why is it that even the saints suffered this abandonment?
God in His own wisdom chose to make loneliness and abandonment an instrument for our salvation to the point that His own Son was ordained to cry out in His own suffering: “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” (Mark 15:34).
It is hard to believe this when we are in our passionate suffering that God actually loves us, if He wasn’t even there for His own Son. But in the end, we know that Jesus was raised and that God was always with Him and searched for Him. You see, God uses loneliness as an instrument to an end and that end is that we realize our longing for Him and our dependence on Him alone. He does this by merely hiding from our sight so that just like the kindergarten child, we are shocked out of our mundane and filled life, filled however, with useless things and with things that cannot fully complete and fill our emptiness. He hides from the saints, so that they might more fervently admit their emptiness and finally cry out to God. In all this, the truth remains, God has never left us; God is always with us; in fact, it is God who began the search: “And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?” (Genesis 3: 9). From this, we see that God is the one who is the loneliest and the one who felt the first abandonment due to our sin. This is why the great saints like Mother Theresa would contemplate on Jesus’ words: “I thirst” (John 19:28). The saints saw this as Jesus’ thirst for our love. He was the good shepherd who searched out for the one lost sheep. He is the brother who longed for His prodigal brother while he worked for his father’s house and in hearing his brother’s return home, rejoiced with his entire household and celebrated in the great feast.
God hides, so that we search for Him alone.We search because God has been searching for us from the beginning.
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