Bishop's Message

God’s elusive presence

Oct 2021    
Gods elusive presence

Surely God is with you…

Surely… a God who hides. (Isa 45:14–15)

“Now you see me, now you don’t!”

Like the sudden disappearing act of a magician who delights an audience, God Who is with us suddenly disappears! The statement in verse 15 that surely God hides himself is preceded by the statement in verse 14 that surely God is with us! Now we see God, now we don’t!

But unlike the magician’s stage performance, God’s mysterious disappearance does not delight us; it distresses us.

Kathryn Greene-McCreight is a pastor who suffers from bipolar disorder. She describes her experience as “a cycling back and forth between painful lows and exhilarating or fearsome highs with a dramatic bungee-like effect that is never thrilling. It’s more like an ordinary tennis ball bouncing from floor to ceiling and back again”.1 She finds some solace by reflecting on Isaiah’s Bible’s presentation of God as “a God who hides himself”.2

This distressing and depressing experience of God’s presence—now found, now forsaken—is the experience of many faithful believers. Theologian Samuel Terrien understands this bewildering oscillation between the presence and absence of God as, not just a peripheral, but indeed the primary theological description of God in the Bible. God is “the elusive presence” in our human world. 3

In a COVID-19 pandemic when we are discouraged by the apparent absence of God, let us encourage each other—with words and deeds of kindness and compassion—to walk on with hope and faith in the invisible God who is our “very present help in times of trouble” (Ps 46:1).

“I believe in the sun, though it be dark.

I believe in God, though (He) be silent.”

—Inscription on the wall of a hidden cellar in Cologne where nine Jews hid during the dark days of World War 24


1 Kathryn Greene-McCreight, Darkness Is My Only Companion (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2015), 41–42.

2 Ibid., 32.

3 Samuel Terrien, The Elusive Presence (New York, NY: Harper, 1978), xxvii, 6.

4 https://humanistseminarian.com/2021/04/04/i-believe-in-the-sun-part-v-the-source/

Bishop Dr Gordon Wong was elected Bishop of The Methodist Church in Singapore in 2020. He served as President of the Trinity Annual Conference from 2012–2020.

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