After the earthquake [there was] a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire;
and after the fire a still small voice.
1 Kings 19:12, NKJV
Perhaps for some of you, 2017 has already been a rough year.
If you can relate, please know that there is very good news for you.
Your story isn’t finished yet. God has a plan. A new chapter can be opened as you open your heart to the One who has a purpose for your pain.
For me 2013 was one of the roughest years of my adult life. My circumstances were dark, and my days were difficult and full of uncertainty. Unanswered prayers piled up before me, while bad experiences piled up behind me. I just couldn’t understand what God was doing. My health was failing, my family was falling apart, and our finances were faltering. My dad’s cancer was spreading, and my mother was admitted into a home. Not only that, but my mom didn’t even recognize me as her daughter anymore. All hope seemed lost.
Although I firmly believed that God had a plan, my heart did not feel it. Instead of experiencing God’s presence, I felt very alone. As my dreams faded and my fire fizzled out, I went through the motions—just trying to survive one more day.
As I look at the life of Elijah in 1 Kings 19, I am reminded that even great men (and women) of God go through rough times. Elijah the prophet, who had called fire down from heaven in 1 Kings 18, was now on the run. Fleeing for his life from the wicked Queen Jezebel, Elijah felt forsaken. He had been zealous for the Lord God, but his passion had died—and so had his will to live.
However, his story didn’t end here. God was in the process of creating a new chapter. But first He had to get Elijah’s attention. He had to prepare his heart to receive what was next.
Under a broom tree, tired, hungry, and thirsty, Elijah sat. God saw him yet did not scold him. Elijah’s faltering faith and fragile state did not open a door to God’s wrath but rather a gateway to God’s grace. God lovingly supplied Elijah with what he couldn’t supply for himself: nourishment from heaven; water to refresh him; and deep, soul-strengthening sleep—all divine provisions that fully satisfied Elijah not just for one day but for forty!
The incredible thing is, God’s provision for Elijah went even further. God was preparing Elijah, while he was at his lowest, to receive God’s highest for him: the ultimate manifestation of God’s presence through the audible sound of His still, small voice.
Elijah did not hear this voice in a loud, rushing wind.
Nor did he hear it in a powerful earthquake or a great, roaring fire.
Rather, he heard this voice in a gentle whisper—a whisper that echoed in Elijah’s humbled and open heart.
Perhaps you’ve been there—your passion has died and you are just going through the motions. Your year has been unraveling before you, and you don’t know what to do. You feel spiritually dry. You lack your luster. You’re tired, weary, and worn. Feeling forsaken, you are ready to call it quits. Why should you even try to keep going when you feel as if you have nothing left?
Well, my dear friend, the reason is that God wants you to. He has a plan. He wants you to know that right now you are in the perfect place to receive His all-sufficient, extravagant, overflowing grace.
Your dark and difficult season is actually a doorway to discover His presence and power all the more.
But in order to experience this, you must learn to rest beneath the tree God has put you under and to receive from Him. The almighty Creator and King of the universe sees your need and promises to provide.
God doesn’t want us to just move forward and act as if everything is okay. Instead, He wants us to cease striving and surrender to Him. He will repair and rebuild the broken places of our lives as we give Him permission to do so. As we place all our ideas and solutions in His hands, He will restore what has been lost in His own way. It may not look the way we thought it would, but it will look the way He wants it to.
As if that is not hard enough, the most difficult, uncomfortable aspect of this is that we must learn to be patient with the process. Although God’s plan has already been set in motion and His restoration is in the works, it may be some time before He unveils a glimpse of it—and in our waiting we must be willing to trust Him as we hold tightly to His promises.
God’s promises say:
He is with us!
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. (Isa. 41:10, NKJV)
He is for us!
What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? (Rom. 8:31, NIV)
He is able!
[He] is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us. (Eph. 3:20, NIV)
All that we’ve known in the past is nothing compared to God’s great desire for us in the future. But, like Elijah, we must be willing to be molded in the middle of our misery and maintain humbled, open hearts.
The difficulties I encountered in 2013 were not resolved immediately. Actually, some of them remained for a couple years. But knowing that God was working gave me the endurance to wait. Now when I find myself going through rough times, I am reminded that just as God got me through the difficulties of 2013, He will get me through today.
He will do the same for you.
As we wait for our rough situations to be resolved, let us tune our ears to heaven’s sound. God’s still, small voice is speaking words of hope and healing to our hearts.
Dear heavenly Father, thank You that we don’t travel through our rough times alone. Although we may not always feel Your presence, that doesn’t mean that You are not there. In our times of waiting, please help us to hold onto Your promises, maintaining humbled and open hearts to Your leading and ears that are ever so attentive to Your voice, in Jesus’ powerful name. Amen.