1 Kings 19:12-13
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?”
The Jews therefore marveled, saying, “How is it that this man has learning, when he has never studied?” So Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me.”
Elijah had a great purpose, and he understood his purpose. He lived to defeat the apostasy in Israel. He battled against the worship of Baal and hoped for the people of Israel to turn to God with an undivided heart.
Elijah had just persevered through 3 years of drought, and led the people in a powerful display of God’s power. The people worshiped the Lord and killed the 450 prophets of Baal. Elijah must have thought he had won. His life purpose felt complete. The rain came and Elijah ran empowered by the Spirit all the way to Jezreel – to the home of Queen Jezebel.
I don’t know what Elijah expected… maybe for Jezebel to admit defeat, maybe fire from heaven to consume her, but he did not expect Jezebel to belittle his victory and threaten his life.
In the course of one rain storm, Elijah went from the heights of victory to the depths of despair. Consumed by disappointment, Elijah fled south through Judah to the southernmost town of Beersheba and further south into the wilderness. There, in complete despair, Elijah asked God to take his life.
We read in Chapter 19 of God’s graciousness to Elijah. God sends an angel to provide food and comfort. Elijah makes his way to Mount Sinai (Mt. Horeb) and God asks him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
It is an invitation for repentance. “Elijah, pour out your heart to me. Tell me your fears. Let me encourage you with my Truth.” But Elijah is angry and disappointed. He justifies himself. So God tries to reveal His ways…
He tries to show Elijah that the battle will not be won with spectacular displays of power, but in quiet, persevering strength. God’s voice was in the whisper – not in the wind, earthquake or fire.
But Elijah’s disappointment blinds him to the truth, so when God asks him again, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” Elijah’s answer remains unchanged.
God’s ways are quiet, yet strong. Mysterious, yet glorious. Invisible, yet powerful.
Jesus shows us the mysterious ways of the Father. Although Jesus demonstrated the power of God in signs and wonders, it was his humble sacrifice that broke the power of sin – and today, it is the Spirit that works quietly to turn our wandering hearts wholeheartedly to the Savior.
We must cling to these truths as we face disappointment and despair. God rarely offers “quick-fixes” to our problems, but works painstakingly slowly – to squeeze the most good out of every circumstance. Elijah’s character would be strengthened as he overcame his anger and despair and re-entered the battle to continue the fight against apostasy. We must also re-enter the battle – moment by moment – and continue to fight for righteousness to rule our hearts and our world!