The following is a brief excerpt from my new book, Finding Favor, from a chapter called “Intentional Obscurity.” I’ve been so encouraged to hear that the book’s been incredibly helpful and encouraging to Pastors who have read advanced copies. Finding Favor releases next Tuesday. A free four-week church-wide campaign with sermons, group questions, etc. will be available May 20. I’d be honored if you pre-ordered a copy HERE.
When we pray for God’s favor, what if sometimes the only way for him to truly bless us is to place us in total obscurity for a season?
Being hidden from the view of the crowd, tucked away in some secret crevasse of the world, would have a way of teaching us lessons that popularity and success cannot.
This is the kind of thing that makes those accustomed to celebrating overnight-success stories bristle.
Obscurity is a word formed from two Latin words: ob (over) and scurus (covered). Obscurus in Latin means “dark,” as in when the sun is “covered over” in a rainstorm.
Haven’t you noticed that three things tend to get “covered over” when we find ourselves wasting away in obscurity: recognition, opportunity and self-worth?
One of the most painful parts of obscurity is that people don’t recognize the gifts and talents we have. We feel undervalued. We were created for so much more, but for some reason people can’t see it.
Next, doors keep getting slammed in our faces. It is always other people—less talented, less committed and less whatever—who seem to keep getting the lucky breaks. If obscurity is driving the car, comparison is always riding shotgun.
Second-guessing ourselves is perhaps the most excruciating byproduct of tours of duty in obscurity. Trying to beat down doors while watching others waltz through them has a way of overturning the self-worth apple cart.
When people tell us to “hang in there” because our time is coming, their well-intended words only add fuel to the fire. Our time never seems to come, and we assume we know the real reason: We’re not as good as we think we are.
Otherwise, why else would we be stuck?
The entire witness of Scripture leads to one inescapable conclusion on this matter: Obscurity is a sign of God’s favor, not a sign of his anger.
Thankfully, there is a good reason God sends people like me, you and van Gogh into obscurity. You’re not going to like the answer, but it is somewhat comforting to know one exists.
Here it is, courtesy of Oswald Chambers: