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Hidden Seasons

Words by Rachel Louise | Illustrations by Marie Warner Preston

Have you ever felt hidden? Wondered if God has forgotten you? Be encouraged today by Noah's story to see God's grace at work, even—especially—in the in-between times and places of your life.

With the concluding words of Genesis 7, we are left in an uncomfortable space. The waters have risen for over a hundred days (v.24). The face of the earth has been wiped bare. There isn’t a single thing on the horizon, least of all hope.

It’s a feeling we know well. When grief seems as if it will never abate, when sleep evades us, when bodies break down. It’s the deep sorrow and hopelessness we meet on Good Friday. All is thrown into darkness without a glimmer of dawn. Christ our Saviour is buried in the grave and all seems lost.

Despite knowing this well-trodden narrative, despite knowing doves and olive branches and rainbows, sitting in this discomfort is important—because it leads us straight to the Cross. Before new life springs up, we struggle. Before resurrection, we lament. But even in the midst of the devastating deluge, we invariably land on glimpses of God’s grace.

The Flood is a mighty display of God’s immense power, unleashing “the springs of the great deep” and “the floodgates of the heavens” upon the earth (v.11-12). This is a God to be rightly feared. This is a God capable of throwing all existence into oblivion.

And yet, He doesn’t. Right alongside utter destruction, God tenderly preserves life.

We see God’s grace in His gentle invitation to Noah to “come into the ark” (v.1 KJV). The Lord beckons rather than sends Noah into a place of refuge. Obeying God’s instruction, Noah has carved a space the waters cannot touch, and God is already there as he enters.

We see God’s grace again in His seal of safety. The Lord shuts Noah in the ark Himself, holding Noah’s protection in His hands alone (v.16). No matter the magnitude of disaster on the earth, life on the ark, in God’s will, is a different story. We’re told that “the ark floated on the surface” and “rose greatly” (v.18-19). Noah is shut away, yet uplifted and cared for beyond the destruction.

There are times when being hidden is the best thing for us.

My own shut-away season came after a series of devastating losses, as I sensed God was calling me somewhere new. I moved to the opposite side of the city and embarked on a nine-month formational theology course. While entering a new community set in a beautiful landscape offered something of a retreat from the wider world, life as I had known it was simultaneously unravelling in almost every way. But obedience lifted me above the floodwaters, giving me a gracious sense of distance from it all. I was safely hidden away for a richly life-giving season, and I felt God fiercely whisper that I would not be bowled over. There, I had perspective to see that the deluge wouldn’t last forever.

God's grace is present even in circumstances that at first appear hopeless. When God sets the waters free from their restrictions, the destruction is bounded; it has a time limit. Just as He does not allow the waters into the ark, He does not allow them to rise beyond one hundred and fifty days (v.24). Even the mighty Flood is constrained.

And here, for us, the depth of our lament only increases the breadth of His mercy.

We follow a God of mighty power and gentle grace, characteristics that aren’t contradictions but are resolved in the person of Jesus. For Christ is the Lion and the Lamb, capable of fearsome violence, yet willing to die so we may live. And because of this sacrifice, God’s immense power is for us.

As the deluge pours in and out of our lives, with its current set against us, we hold onto the hope that God is more powerful. He is raising the very protection we need from incessant rains. We need only follow His beckoning as they begin to fall.

Recollect a moment when destruction seemed to be all around but God offered unexpected safety. Now consider where Christ might be inviting you to take refuge in Him today. What does it look like to respond to that invitation, propelled by His past faithfulness?

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