God's Game of Hide-and-Speak


God doesn’t cultivate our faith by rewarding it immediately. We may encounter enormous contradictions, but faith holds on and hopes.

We might think that when God speaks, the next thing we experience is the fulfillment of what he said. Not only should we expect a long wait; sometimes we will experience complete contradictions.

Why? Because this is one the key lessons in God’s school of faith. It’s possible to see a contradiction because we really didn’t hear God’s voice. But if we really did hear him, we need to know that contradictions are a normal part of the process. Some people shrug their shoulders and walk away as soon as they see one. That’s not faith. Faith requires persevering through all obstacles.

Abraham was given a promise—he would be a father of nations—and then waited a quarter of a century for it to come to pass. God didn’t tell him how or when, so Abraham tried to fill in the blanks himself several times. But the promise got more specific over time—from Abraham’s own body, not through an adopted servant; then through Sarah’s own body, not through her maid—and there was nothing left for Abraham to do but wait. When the time finally came, both he and Sarah laughed. The promise seemed long overdue. But God had spoken, and they had believed. So even when circumstances seemed hopeless, Abraham kept trusting what God had said.

That’s our posture when we’ve heard God’s voice. We may encounter enormous contradictions, but faith holds on and hopes.

Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed. (Romans 4:18)

Sometimes we’ve misunderstood some things, so our faith gets redirected. Sometimes we have our minds set on a certain timing, and we get disappointed. But one way or another, God fulfills what he has spoken. His word does not return to him empty. Sometimes we have to contend with our own hearts and circumstances to remember that.

Our training isn’t done until we can stare contradictions in the face and still have a heart of peace that hopes against all hope. We learn quickly that God doesn’t cultivate our faith by rewarding it immediately, like a dog trainer who rewards a good trick with a treat. He normally cultivates our faith by hiding himself, then encouraging, then hiding again, and repeating the cycle.

This game of hide-and-speak is frustrating but essential. And when we learn to hope against hope in what God has said, hope receives its rewards.

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