Why does God stay hidden? Why doesn’t’ God reveal himself so concretely and physically that no one could doubt his existence?
Ron Rolheiser, OMI
I like Karl Rahner’s perspective on this. God isn’t hidden, he says, we just don’t have the eyes to see God because our eyes aren’t attuned to that kind of reality.
We struggle with doubt because we can’t picture God’s existence, imagine God’s reality, or feel God’s presence in our normal ways. At a certain point, our minds, imaginations, and hearts simply run out of gas, out of room, out of feeling, and leave us dry, unable to nail down the reality of God the way we’re used to nailing down most everything else. The reality of God is elusive to our conscious minds and hearts because we can’t picture, imagine, or feel God in the usual way we do these things.
Rahner’s insight provides a clue: We struggle with faith because the world is not God, and we can’t walk around the landscape of spirit in the same way as we stroll around in this world. Why not?
Precisely because God and the other world are spirit and we are being invited into a reality whose hugeness is beyond conception, whose silence is beyond language, and whose reality is beyond the physical and all that we can see, touch, taste, smell, and feel in the normal way. God is life, light, love, energy, vastness, and simplicity beyond our categories. God has a different metaphysics.
Thus, it’s easy to have doubts about God’s existence, and not just if we are young and still over-enthralled by the reality of this world, its stunning beauty, the promises it dangles before us, and its overpowering physical character. In a world where the physical defines everything, it can be difficult to believe in anything else.
But that struggle, ironically, also afflicts those who are mature in faith, in a more painful way in fact. It was Jesus, after all, not some wayward youth who cried out: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me!”
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