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From Obscurity to Visibility

From Obscurity to Visibility

Consider how often in Scripture we see faithful men and women who were seemingly hidden from their full potential yet not forgotten by God. Remember David, who was promised the throne of Israel yet forced to run for years from his adversary, King Saul, hiding in caves and removed from the position and prominence he was promised?

Or what about the Samaritan woman who met Jesus at the well in John 4? She was so isolated and hidden from her community that she drew water during the heat of the day when no one else would choose to go.

We read about a woman named Hannah in 1 Samuel. Longing for a son, she was hidden because of years of barrenness, which culturally would have left her feeling ashamed and worthless.

Or what about Jesus Himself? God’s own Son spent all but three of His thirty-three years of life in obscurity, hidden from public ministry. There were no crowds following Him around. No public platform and no popularity. As far as we know from Scripture,

  • Jesus was a carpenter’s son, faithful to His family and community, hidden from the world until God’s appointed time.

Were the hidden years for these men and women used by God? Did they play a significant role in God’s plan? Yes!

David’s hidden years proved extremely fruitful as God used those circumstances to bring about the many psalms of worship, lament, and surrender that serve us, the church, today. God used David’s hidden years to prepare an imperfect man for an earthly throne — a throne that would one day usher in a forever King.

The woman at the well? Her hiddenness ultimately ushered her into a place of surrender to and worship of Jesus, her Savior. She went from hiding from the townspeople to becoming an evangelist in her community:

Many Samaritans from that town believed in Him because of the woman’s testimony.John 4:39

And Hannah’s season of hiddenness — obscurity in a culture where a woman’s worth was determined by her ability to bear children — turned her heart to the Lord with diligent and desperate prayers. Hannah sought comfort in God when she suffered shame in her barrenness. In time, God gave Hannah a son — who would become the first prophet — named Samuel. His name literally means “heard by God,” and his arrival meant Hannah was hidden no more.

And how were Jesus’ thirty years of obscurity purposeful? He studied, worked, and laughed with friends. He prepared for ministry, served His family, contributed to His community, and experienced adolescence. He cared for people and knew what it was to feel hungry. Jesus lived an ordinary life on purpose. As one pastor noted:

That [God] would send His own Son to live and mature and labor in relative obscurity for some three decades, before “going public” and gaining recognition as an influential teacher, has something to say to us about the dignity of ordinary human life and labor — and the sanctity of incremental growth and maturation.1

Oh, Lord, teach us to embrace incremental growth and maturation.

When we are on the other side of our hidden years, we can often see God’s purposes. The seasons we, in our limited understanding, had deemed fruitless often turn out to be anything but. So many victorious stories of impact, influence, and leadership in God’s Word were born out of long periods of seemingly purposeless hiddenness. It’s just so hard for us to see the possibility or potential on the other side when we’re in the middle of it.

  1. David Mathis, “How God Became a Man: What Jesus Did for Thirty Years,” Desiring God, December 8, 2016,

Excerpted with permission from Now and Not Yet by Ruth Chou Simons, copyright Ruth Chou Simons.

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Your Turn

Are you in a hidden season? Does it feel like this period is pointless and can’t possibly contribute to God’s good plan? Think again! God is using this time to shape and hone you. He’s planting the seeds of a good future for you and those around you. You might not see the purpose now, and maybe not until you get to Heaven, but God is always good and so is His plan. Wait and see! ~ Devotionals Daily