“Object permanence” is the understanding we have that things don’t stop existing just because we stop seeing them. It’s a concept that babies do not have until around eight or nine months, and coincidentally the reason that peekaboo so strikes their fancy. You can read up more on it on wikipedia here, or, I’m sure, in most developmental psychology textbooks. I learned about it in college, and last night as I was falling asleep it occurred to me that this same concept is something that is equally hard for Christians, or really anyone of any faith in anything, to grasp. Not object permanence in its literal sense, of course, but rather in a more spiritual form: that God still exists even if I don’t see Him. This could be in the sense of not seeing His purposes in difficult or confusing times, not feeling His presence, or even, as those who follow the prosperity line of theology (I wouldn’t suggest it) would see it, not “having His blessings.” I won’t go too far down the line of what I see as blessings or not here, but will leave John 16:33 as initial pointer and let the Bible speak for itself.
I think of times in the Bible where Paul reprimands his brethren for still being spiritual infants (1 Cor. 3:2, Hebrews 5:12 [not necessarily Paul]) in consideration of this new idea. Is it not an infant-like thing to think that as soon as something isn’t being currently “felt” or “seen” or “sensed” that it no longer exists? That if I don’t see or know what God is doing that He has no part in it or isn’t there? If I don’t get the blessings I (think I) want, or don’t see the blessings I have, does that mean that God is not good? The answer of course is no. God is and was and will be good no matter what my understanding or perception is. It strikes me just how well the analogy fits. For a baby, if mom “disappears,” it’s nothing less than bewildering. Adults know that mom is not only there, but smiling with baby in mind. It’s not a perfect analogy of course. God is not “playing” with us when He keeps his silence or when doors we want open stay shut. I’m sure there are other flaws too. This only seemed profound to me last night, as these things do, and in finding myself content in discovering yet again just what a child of God I am, I thought I’d pass it along.