Tripping over dried branches and getting scratched by thorny bushes as he hurriedly journeyed through the wilderness, Elijah searched and searched for some form of refuge, a safe haven where he could hide away. A day into his escape, he threw himself under the shade of a large bush he found and the only thing he could pray for was that he would die.
Death. Had it really come to this? Running for his life, fleeing the king who wanted to kill him. And all for being a prophet of God, all for being an obedient servant to the Most High. How could he, a devout man of faith, end up in such a state of despair that he’d much rather die than live?
The voices of fear, of confusion, of doubt, of worry, even of temptation seemed to crowd his mind. The very beating of his heart resounded ever so loudly in his ears. Nothing was under control, nothing was worth living for anymore. The heavy agony of hopelessness settled in the mind of Elijah, a great man of God who through the power of his Creator had performed miracles and been a testimony to God’s might and awesomeness.
The clattering sounds of despair became louder and louder.
“I have had enough Lord! Take my life. I am no better than my ancestors.”
Shortly after, he fell into a fitful sleep of exhaustion.
He carried on for forty days and forty nights, contemplating the confusion and agony behind his escaping through the wilderness in the first place. There isn’t much to be used as description of feelings when someone is hunting you down to kill you, there were no words or thoughts of peace to bring Elijah hope. What was he to do? Where was God?
He reached a mountain and settled down in one of its caves for the night. Suddenly, the Voice. Powerful and dominating, but at the same time beautiful and gentle.
“What are you doing here Elijah?”
The Voice he’d longed for since escaping from King Ahab and his vicious wife, Jezebel. The voice that he had so often communicated with, there was no question as to Who such a tender and mighty Voice could belong to.
“I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”
The weight of his words came down heavily upon Elijah as his mind was suddenly caught up once again in the reality of death and the loss of his many beloved friends. Still, the Voice called to him,
“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.
The Lord said to him, “Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. Also, anoint Jehu king over Israel, and anoint Elisha to succeed you as prophet…I reserved seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.”*
Such was the Voice of the Lord Almighty, King of the universe, Ruler over all, thunderous and powerful. The Voice offered hope, direction, and victory. Elijah took it and ran with it the rest of his life. He returned to his land and helped achieve much for the glory of his God and the future of his country. In his moments of despair, the Voice of his King came to him when he needed It, and It strengthened him for the fires and trials he was yet to encounter.
And the extraordinary thing is:
The God from Whom this Voice came from is the same God that still rules on high today, and He speaks to us in the same loving, powerful way. Let us look to Him in our time of joy as well as adversity. For He is always there.
*Story found in 1 Kings 19