by Kathy Collard Miller @KathyCMiller
Success can be dangerous.
Elijah had just been used by God (in I Kings 18) to triumphantly bring fire down from heaven and put the priests of Baal not only to shame, but to death. But then, in response to the miracle, Queen Jezebel angrily threatened retaliation.
“So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, to say, “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of [those priests]. Elijah was afraid and ran for his life” (I Kings 19:2 NIV).
Elijah reacted as most of us would have. He fled. God supplied sustenance in Beersheba, and then, continuing in his escape, Elijah ended up “lodging in” (not just visiting) a desert cave one hundred miles away from where he started. Alone. Or so He thought.
God then asked Elijah a simple question: “Elijah, what are you doing here?
Elijah answered: “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the sons of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars and killed Your prophets with the sword. And I alone am left; and they seek my life, to take it away” (1 Kings 19:10 NASB).
Then, because God is compassionate and caring, he revealed Himself to Elijah, showing him he was not alone. He first caused a thundering wind, but He was not in the wind. He then shook the earth in a violent quake, but He was not in the earthquake. Then a roaring fire passed by, but God was not in the fire. God was not in any of those violent, destructive things.
When God finally did come, it was with a gentle blowing whisper. It was enough to woo Elijah out of his dark cave.
And again, God asked the question, “What are you doing here?”
He wasn’t asking Elijah about his physical location, but where he was in his heart. God wanted Elijah to bare his soul to Him. Elijah did, revealing once again his disillusionment and fear.
And in response to Elijah’s honest struggle, God comforted him by showing him the relief and help He would provide.
Most of us can probably think of a time when we trusted God wholeheartedly, but found a massive spiritual fail wasn’t far behind. As we turned inward and away from God, it may even have triggered depression and hopelessness.
During times of sadness, or when you’ve just failed (or sinned) for the umpteenth time, how do you hear God’s response? Especially when you feel abandoned and feel no one understands?
Do you hear God’s words as a gentle inquiry: “What’s going on in your heart? I want to help.”? Or do you hear a condemning “I can’t believe you’re disappointing me … again!”?
How we perceive the tone of God’s inquiry indicates whether or not we believe that God is a compassionate God.
I love how God’s question was an invitation for Elijah to identify his feelings out loud. I love how He responded by revealing His own compassionate nature. Identifying our feelings often is not easy. Many of us as children were told not to feel or share our deepest emotions. We can feel guilt by expressing them.
But God doesn’t want us to hide anything from Him. His caring question invited Elijah’s honesty. His response to Elijah’s raw emotion was to give him purpose, sustenance, encouragement, and support.
God could have provided for Elijah without asking his soul-penetrating question, but he didn’t. Elijah’s heart awareness and verbal expression prepared him to receive what God had to say to him, to receive God’s compassionate provision.
He can do the same for you.
The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23 NASB
About the author: Kathy Collard Miller lives in Southern California and is the author of over 55 books including the Daughters of the King Bible study series. One of the studies is At the Heart of Friendship. As a popular women’s conference speaker, she has spoken in 35 states and 8 foreign countries. Her passion is to communicate practical biblical ideas for trusting God more. Visit her at http://www.KathyCollardMiller.com.
Her latest latest release is , Heart Wisdom, a part of her women’s Daughters of the King Bible study series. Heart Wisdom includes ten lessons about the different topics included in The Proverbs, and is perfect for individual or group study. Reach Kathy at www.KathyCollardMiller.com
Join the conversation: How do you describe God’s caring compassion?What does it mean for you today?