The Bible gives us the story of Elijah who had been in such high standing with God. He was God’s man, God’s prophet and had the support of all the people. You can read the full story in 1 Kings 19:9-13. Suddenly, things changed and Elijah was feeling deserted and disrespected. His feelings were hurt and he was scared to death. He went to the same mountain where God had appeared to Moses with a message in a burning bush in hopes that he would hear from God in the same way. Most of us don’t get a burning bush and neither did Elijah!
But that doesn’t mean that God no longer speaks to us. I believe He does. I think we can look at Elijah and learn three very important things that can prevent us from hearing God’s voice in our lives.
First, God said to Elijah, “What are you doing here? What are you doing here?” Elijah was hiding in a cave because he was angry and hurt. So often, we do the same thing, we sulk and withdraw and, somehow, we expect God to tell us what to do to fix our problems! When somebody hurts your feelings or disrespect you, it’s easy to want to just quit.
Secondly, it’s interesting that God asked that question not once, but twice of Elijah. He kept saying, “Elijah, what are you doing here?” God didn’t ask that question twice because he didn’t hear or because he didn’t know. He was trying to urge Elijah to think and look at his life. Things weren’t going as Elijah expected, but God urged him to open his eyes and ears to see that maybe God was going to work in a different way than what he expected. I believe that you and I really do want to hear God speak in our lives, but we have to be serious about examining our own lives and growing in our faith. Growing in faith opens our eyes and ears so that we can see and hear from God in ways we never expected.
Third, it’s easy to see that through the story of Elijah, God has been there from the beginning to guide, direct, nurture and bless, but Elijah missed it because of his anger and hurt feelings. It’s not until you get past the rage, hurt feelings and sulking that you can hear God speak. If you go back and read the story, you’ll see that when Elijah starts to run toward the mountain of God, he grew so tired and was so discouraged he just laid down and said, “I want to die.”
Have you ever felt so tired, discouraged and beat down that you just want to lay down and die? The Bible says God sent an angel to give him food, drink and strength. He gets up to go and grows tired again, so God sends an angel a second time to give him food to eat and water to drink and strength to get up and to go on. Elijah doesn’t even seem to remember that. Sometimes, we miss God’s blessings when we’re struggling with anger.
Finally, Elijah goes to the mouth of the cave and there is a strong wind that breaks the rocks, but God is not in the wind. And there is an earthquake that shakes the mountain, but God isn’t the earthquake, and there’s a fire that can consume anything, but God isn’t the fire. It’s not until Elijah could get past some of the anger, hurt feelings and pride that it says, “And he heard a still, small voice.” More literally translated it says, “And he heard the sound of silence.” A silence so great he could hear the sound of God speaking.