by Shawn Brasseaux
Are you going through a difficult time right now? The hospitalization of a loved one? The death of a friend? Financial problems? Poor health? You may have a professing Christian tell you the reason why you are having all those problems is because “God is hiding His face from you.” They may tell you that you have un-confessed sin, so now God judging you for it. Some people may mean well, but oftentimes this is spoken in a rude, judgmental tone. Religious tradition has once again confused the issue. In this Bible study, we hope to study God’s Word, God’s way, and dispel the misunderstandings.
If we look at verses like Psalm 88:14, Isaiah 45:15, or Isaiah 59:2, we find one common theme: God is hiding His face from “them,” and He cannot hear “their” prayers.
- Psalm 88:14 KJV: “LORD, why castest thou off my soul? why hidest thou thy face from me?”
- Psalm 45:15 KJV: “Verily thou art a God that hidest thyself, O God of Israel, the Saviour.”
- Isaiah 59:2 KJV: “But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.”
But, before we apply these verses to us, we need to establish who is the “them.” According to Isaiah, God is hiding His face from Israel. The Jews are steeped in pagan idolatrous worship and they refuse to obey the LORD, so He has set them on probation. As long as they are rebellious, God will withhold the blessings and pour out the curses (Deuteronomy 8:19,20): “And it shall be, if thou do at all forget the LORD thy God, and walk after other gods, and serve them, and worship them, I testify against you this day that ye shall surely perish. As the nations which the LORD destroyeth before your face, so shall ye perish; because ye would not be obedient unto the voice of the LORD your God.” Whenever Israel decided to hearken unto the LORD, then He would bless them with wealth and prosperity (Deuteronomy 7:12-16). This is not the program God is operating today.
Psalm 22:1 can be misinterpreted to say that God forsakes the believer (this would be in clear contradiction to Hebrews 13:5). But, we learn that this verse in the book of Psalms is actually a prophetic quote referring to Christ’s crucifixion 1,000 years into the future! Because God the Father is holy (separate from sinners), and God the Son “became sin for us” (2 Corinthians 5:21), the Father had to turn His back on the Son as He hung on the cross (also see Galatians 3:13). This is why Jesus Christ shouted out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46 KJV). This verse in Psalm 22 has nothing to do with you and I as members of the Church the Body of Christ.
Some people will even go so far as to say that your suffering may be the result of you losing your salvation! They use Psalm 51:11 for that, which has nothing to do with us either. “Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.” In the Old Testament, there was no such thing as the Holy Spirit permanently indwelling the believer. King David wrote Psalm chapter 51 shortly after committing adultery with Bathsheba, and David was afraid that God would take His Holy Spirit from him.
As opposed to the nation Israel, we are in the Church the Body of Christ, and we are under a whole different set of circumstances. Now, in the Dispensation of Grace, Paul says that we as believers are sealed by and with the Holy Spirit of promise (Ephesians 1:13,14; Ephesians 4:30). The Holy Spirit will indwell the believer until the day of the rapture, the day of redemption! A person who is a genuine member of the Body of Christ will always be saved: the believer in Christ has eternal security.
So, what about unanswered prayer? What about your unhealed body? Why does James 5:15 not work for you? Why does John 14:14 not work for you? We know that God is not hiding His face from you, so there must be something else to consider. The problem is that we live in a sinful, fallen world. Romans 8:18-23 KJV says:
“18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.
20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,
21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.
23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.”
“The whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.” The animal kingdom, the whole world, groans in pain—everything in creation is under the curse of sin and death. Even us Christians (verse 23)!
This curse on our universe is the result of Adam’s sin, as found back in Genesis chapter 3 (Romans 5:12). We do not grow sick because God hates us; disease and death are the results of the curse of corruption and sin. Our physical bodies are not yet redeemed, so they are prone to grow old and eventually return to the dust. You are not the only person in the world suffering (1 Corinthians 10:13): “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”
But, what are we to do when our prayers go unanswered? Romans 5:1-5, 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, and Philippians 4:6,7 give us peace and comfort. “God’s grace is sufficient for you!” “Glory in your infirmities, your weaknesses, your trials!” “Rest in the peace of God!”
We have a chance to grow spiritually—we gain more patience, more experience, and more hope when we go through difficult times. When you are at your seemingly weakest, the Bible says that you are at your strongest… it is during that critical time that you rely more on the Lord.
Romans 5:1-5 KJV:
“1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope:
5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”
2 Corinthians 12:7-10 KJV:
“7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.
8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.
9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”
Philippians 4:6,7 KJV:
“6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
GOD IS NOT HIDING HIS FACE FROM YOU!!!