“And behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and He said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’ He said, ‘I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, thrown down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.’ And He said, ‘Go out and stand on the mount before the LORD.’ And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?'”(1 Kings 19:9b-13 ESV)
Poor Elijah! The prophet is worn out; he’s just had a spectacular showdown with the priests of Baal over the spiritual future of the nation. Elijah had every reason to hope that the king would take notice and decide to change his evil ways. But that isn’t what happened. Instead, within hours, the king’s wife swears an oath to kill him. Small wonder why Elijah’s ready to give up!
So Elijah heads for the one place that sticks in his mind as a place to meet God—Mount Horeb, also known as Mount Sinai. Perhaps God will have something to say to him.
And He does—but not what Elijah expects, I bet. God asks him, “What are you doing here?” He asks twice, so Elijah is forced to think it through. And between the two questions, God puts on a show of force—a windstorm, an earthquake, and a fire. Was this what Elijah was hoping for—a God who would simply overpower his enemies and make everything perfect again?
But he didn’t get that. Instead, somehow Elijah knows that the Lord is not in any of these forceful events. When God finally has a conversation with Elijah, it is a small, still voice—even a silence.
I wonder if Elijah was glad of that. After all, he too was an ordinary man. He could not stand up to God’s power—by the look of things, he couldn’t even exit the cave during the wind or the storm or the earthquake. But when he heard God’s voice, he came out. He could face that aspect of God. And in the conversation that followed, Elijah found hope and practical help.
When we are feeling beaten up by the forces in our world, we need that same care from God. We may dream of God using His power to help us, but what we usually get is much more quiet—more like a still whisper, or a tiny baby in a manger in Bethlehem. We get the God we can face—Jesus Christ, who came to be a human being like us, to live and to die and to rise again—all to make us whole.
I’ll take that. Won’t you?
We pray: Dear Lord, be patient with me in my weakness, and help me to lean on You. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.
Originally published in The Lutheran Hour on June 21, 2022
Used by permission from International Lutheran Laymen’s League, all rights reserved
1. When have you wanted to see God act forcefully to overturn evil?
2. When have you benefited from God’s quiet care?
3. Is there a way you can show God’s love to someone else in need of quiet and gentleness?