Recently I was asked: "Why does God not make it clear to people that he is 'real'? If God is love and wants us to love Him, why not make it clearly evident to all people throughout all time?"
Here was my response.
Good question. One I have asked myself as well. Why doesn't God make it clearer that He exists? It seems like He could do things differently…or better.
Short answer: I don't know.
Whenever you go down the road of "why didn't God do things differently?" you eventually hit a roadblock. There are some things we simply can't know. We just have to trust Him. Sort of like the 2-year old who can't understand why his parents don't let him eat cookies instead of vegetables or who take him to the doctor to get shots that hurt.
Here are my best thoughts as I wrestle through this question…
The Bible says that God has revealed himself to every person in some kind of way.
That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. (John 1:9)
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. (Rom 1:18-19)
And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being. (Acts 17:26-28a)
So the Bible says that each person has some kind of "inner witness" to God's existence. In fact, Acts 17 would even say that right now we are living and moving and existing in God's very being. In other words, it is sort of like the fish saying, "I am not sure water exists because I don't see it quite the way that I expect to." Or us as humans saying, "I am not sure air exists because it is not visible to me."
When it comes right down to it, we can only know our own thoughts. We can't enter into the mind of another and so we can never know what particular ways that God has revealed Himself to them. Yes, there are many atheists who would say, "God hasn't revealed Himself to me in any way!" But we can't know that. We can only know our own hearts.
On top of the inner witness of God's existence, the Bible also says that there is a clear outer witness, creation itself. Psalm 19 and Romans 1 make this clear.
The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, And night unto night reveals knowledge. (Psalm 19:1-2)
For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse. (Rom 1:20)
To stop and look at the intricacy and complexity and beauty of creation is enough to tell us that there is a master designer to our world and to our bodies. When we see order anywhere else in creation, we automatically know that there is a designer. It is only in creation that we doubt it.
When you read this email, you will not assume that it was a random glitch in a computer that sent this to you. You will know it is from me even though you don't see me write it or send it or even really understand how it got from my computer to yours. And yet, the information in a single strand of DNA has infinitely more information than is contained in this email and we doubt that it has an Author.
But why does God seemingly "hide" so much?
Truly You are God, who hide Yourself, O God of Israel, the Savior! (Is 45:15)
It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, But the glory of kings is to search out a matter. (Prov 25:2)
But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. (Heb 11:6)
God is looking for a certain kind of relationship with us. He wants us to trust Him when we don't always understand or see Him. He wants us to seek Him, to wrestle with Him, to desire Him. Maybe He could wow us over and over with "special effects" and visiting angels and clouds that spell out "Yahweh" every morning. But He hasn't. Sometimes He does, like in the case of Israel at Mount Sinai, but that didn't make Israel love Him more but in fact resist Him and demand more and more signs. It is the ol' "what have you done for me lately" attitude. It is the same mentality of the crowds who followed Jesus as long as He was doing miracles and feeding them and catering to their wants. God doesn't want this kind of "follower" and so He hides Himself, revealing enough to us to call us after Him but not so much to make us children always demanding more and always wanting God to prove Himself.
At times I wish it were different. But maybe it is the darkness of doubt and the intensity of the struggle on earth that will make the joy and intimacy of His presence in heaven that much sweeter.
Hope that helps.