The prophet Elijah, in 1 Kings 19, had been deeply entrenched in a religious battle where prophets were being killed. For some, Elijah was defending the One, True, God. In this case, Elijah felt he was the last prophet left and Jezebel had made a public threat to destroy Elijah. In response, Elijah ran and hid, looking to find God wherever God might be revealing himself. Desperately looking for the presence of God in his life, Elijah ran, following the guidance of the Lord, awaiting to see the presence of the Lord pass before him.
The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
– 1 Kings 19:11-13, NIV
When asking “Where is God” many distractions will present themselves, distracting you from the true presence of God. They will be loud, raucous, and wild, where you can hardly help but turn your head. Most of us have various distractions during times that we need to feel God. In our desperation, we seek out God looking for where the Savior is in our situation. Yet the world will throw everything it has at you, hoping for you to miss the presence of God in your situation. There will be distractions and difficulty by a world that does not want us to see God, but we sit still, waiting on the gentle whisper of the Lord to comfort and sustain us.
The world we live in will squawk and squeal at every instance and opportunity. At times, it will feel as though the world is against us. Storms will come and they will come with a fury. During that time, we will fear that even the world is seeking our destruction. Frankly put though, it is. Before Elijah experienced the earthquakes, fires, and winds, he was running because others had threatened his life. As he sat on the mountain, the storms of his life sought to threaten his life as well. Yet to see the presence of God, he lived beyond the distractions.
There will be spiritual storms, spiritual trails, and other difficult things that go on throughout our life. The money will run out before the bills do. The judgment from the world will come for following our faith. Friendships and relationships will become strained at some point. However loud the noise of our life may be, it is merely noise when compared to the eternal nature of Jesus Christ.
The Gentle Whisper
During times of panic and distress, adding another panicked voice is rarely the solution. For Elijah, the voice of God did not come as a loud booming voice but as a gentle whisper. Where the world shook and reared its head in false strength and positioning, the voice of god spoke quietly and calmly. As mentioned previously, God has no need to prove His strength. The voice of God offers a strength and calmness simultaneously. It is powerful yet peaceful.
For the gentle whisper, we must be listening intently for the voice of God. For a gentle whisper, one must be actively listening for that voice amidst the sea of noise that surrounds it. The earthquake may be loud, the wind blowing fiercely, and the fire roaring, but our attention is focused on hearing from God. Where is God in the noise? We must listen to find out. Until then, we pray, mediate and continue to pursue God even when we cannot hear him. We exert the effort needed to attune our hears to hear the voice of God. Do not allow the surrounding storms and disasters to shock you into fear, rather, take our calm and rest in the gentle whisper knowing that however grand the distractions, that our God is stronger than them all.
In the end, Elijah heard and responded to the presence of God and the gentle whisper. The answer he received, was comforting. Where he thought everyone around him was seeking his death, God showed him those who had not fallen to Baal. Where he felt alone, he was shown the grander story of God in the world. Where he heard noise and the distraction, the gentle whisper of God pierced through as it comforted and guided Elijah.
Read 1 Kings 19:9-18
- What is going on that causes Elijah to go on the run?
- Why was it important that Elijah not be distracted by the wind, earthquake, and fire? What danger is there in these events?
- Where does God direct Elijah to go after revealing His presence to Him? Why is this significant and difficult for Elijah?
- Where have you heard the voice of God but it has been difficult to follow?
- Where is it most difficult for you to hear the voice of God? What are the common distractions that you face in hearing and following the voice of God?
- How is a God who gently whispers comforting during the times you are trying to find God? How can we position ourselves to hear the gentle whisper of God?