1 Kings 19:11-12 Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces 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; 12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.
The back story of these verses makes all the difference. Elijah was God’s main man, a great prophet and he’s having himself a little pity party because the Lord isn’t working things out the way Elijah wants. He’s up in the mountains complaining that he’s alone and hunted. Honestly? The guy just wants to die and be done with this crappy life.
I had pretty much the same exact pity party this week. I was angry at God. Not just a little irritated, but truly pissed off. Feeling like He made a horrible mistake. Like He really screwed up. The sorrow and anguish I was experiencing for some friends was overwhelming. Life seemed utterly and completely unfair. I know I can never truly understand God, but often, I sort of do. At least I feel like I do. I can see Him moving and working and sometimes, I get it. But this week, the circumstances of life just did not make any sense. Zero. I begged and pleaded for the Lord to help me comprehend the “why”. To give me some small measure of clarity. I felt like my heart was going to explode from crushing grief for my friends. I wanted an explanation.
These verses in the middle of chapter 19 were my answer. I expect God to be in the earthquake, the wind and the fire. I want to see Him answer in a big way. To move heaven and earth. Show up huge and mighty. But no. He is in the still small whisper at the end of the chaos. If I’m busy throwing a tantrum because things aren’t going my way, I’ll miss the quiet direction of the Lord. All the foot stomping, crying and yelling isn’t going to change that He is God, and I am not. When He showed up for Elijah in these verses it wasn’t to condone the pity party. It was to give him the next job to do. Because God always has a plan.
Elijah couldn’t see it when his life’s work was in shambles. When he was scorned, rejected and chased thru the countryside. I cannot see it when the unfairness of life seems to smother me from all sides. But my lack of understanding does not negate God’s purpose. When everything is nice and pleasant, it’s easy to trust God. It is in the hard times, when nothing makes sense that our faith in His goodness is tested. In those moments, days, months it becomes difficult to quiet our complaining long enough to hear the small voice of the Lord. But that is where we’ll find Him. Behind the earthquakes, wind and fires of life, His presence is there. If only we will listen for it.
“One act of thanksgiving, when things go wrong with us, is worth a thousand thanks when things are agreeable to our inclinations.” – Saint John of Avila