“The Lord said to him, ‘Go back the way you came. …’” 1 Kings 19:15a (NIV)
God engaged Elijah with a gentle whisper. To hear a whisper, you have to really listen. Instead of a rebuke or a command, God gently asked Elijah a question, “What are you doing here?” In fact, the Bible says that God asked him the same question twice, in verses 9 and 13. Questions like that have a way of making us think. It gave Elijah a chance to respond and pour out his heart to God, to express his discouragement, and explain why he wanted to die.
It’s interesting to me how often God speaks to people in the Bible in a similar way, with a question. When Adam was hiding from God, He asked Adam, “Where are you?” “What have you done?” After Cain murdered his brother, God asked him, “Where is your brother?” Now, God is asking His prophet, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” Questions are a great way to engage hurting and broken people. What do you think God is asking you?
After hearing Elijah’s rant, the Lord could have rejected him and left him to die in the cave, but He didn’t do that! Why not? The Psalmist has the answer, “He (God) does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him; for He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust.” Psalm 103:10-14 (NIV2011) AMEN! Aren’t you glad He doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve? What did God do? Don’t miss this part! It may just be God’s whisper to you as well! God whispers three things to Elijah. He says,
1. I’m not finished with you yet. “The Lord said to him, ‘Go back the way you came. …’” 1 Kings 19:15a (NIV) The cave was not where Elijah belonged! God had more work for Elijah to do. He would send Elijah back to anoint two Kings and his own replacement. God would give this lonely prophet a partner in ministry to mentor before calling him home. Despite how discouraged you may feel, if you will listen you will hear the whisper of God saying, “I’m not finished with you yet.” The truth is, if you’re not dead, God’s not done! As long as you are occupying space and taking in oxygen, God has a purpose for your life. Don’t hide your hurts. God will use them to bring hope to others. He wants to take your mess and make a life message that will put His glory on display!
2. You’re not alone in your pain. Elijah thought he was the only one left in all of Israel that was faithful to God. But God wouldn’t leave him in his self-pity and pride any longer. He told Elijah, “I still have 7,000 people in Israel whose knees have not knelt to worship Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.” 1 Kings 19:18 (GW)
When we’re hurting, it’s so easy to convince ourselves that our pain is unique and no one else could possibly understand what we’re feeling. But the truth is, we are never alone in our pain. Others have felt what we are feeling and with their understanding, encouragement and fellowship we will get through this just as they have. The worst thing you can do in your pain is to isolate yourself. It’s time to get out of the cave. You are not alone in your pain. The church is a place of redemption, healing, and restoration. Connect with other Christ followers and experience the power of God to restore your life, renew your vision, and revive your heart.
3. You will get through this! This is the story of Elijah! His life was not over. The cave was not his grave! God wasn’t done. He just needed to hear the gentle whisper of God to experience healing and find purpose in his pain. God led him back and accomplished His purpose through His servant before calling him home. No matter what you are going through, you will get through this as well! Even if you don’t get over it, you will get through it. How? There’s a passage in Isaiah that gives me hope and assurance when I feel like I’m never going to get through what I’m dealing with. I challenge you to meditate on it until you hear the gentle whisper of God in your own heart.
“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.” Isaiah 43:2 (NLT)
Take heart in God’s presence and power – Don’t give up! Give it over to God. You will get through this!