Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4a
Elijah was one of the Lord’s passionate prophets of the Old Testament. While many Israelites during that time began serving Baal, an idol, Elijah remained firm in conviction and challenged them to return to the One True God. He called fire down from heaven. He earnestly prayed for the end of a long drought and it began to rain. (I Kings 18) He gave of himself physically, emotionally, and spiritually, leaving his soul depleted and fatigued. He needed rest and restoration but Queen Jezebel was threatening to kill him.
Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep. (I Kings 19:2-5)
Elijah was ready to throw in the towel. Spending his life as a prophet for the Lord seemed pointless in that moment. Have you ever felt that way? Perhaps you’ve tried to do right by God in many aspects of your life but continue to wait for that coveted blessing. Like Elijah, our wounded, hurting hearts needed comfort. We need relief from the pain.
An angel tended to Elijah in the wilderness, giving him food and water. He rested. Then he got up and traveled for forty days and forty nights, reaching a cave at Horeb, the mountain of God, before resting again. It was there, in a chilly, damp cavern where he expresses the ache in his heart:
And the word of the Lord came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He replied, “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.” (I Kings 19:9b-10)
Was everything he had done been for nothing? Would God hold up His end of the bargain? It would be reasonable and understandable if Elijah wondered these questions – I know I have. It’s frustrating to dedicate time and energy to the Lord’s calling without seeing the fruits of our labor.
Elijah was ready to walk away at this point. What could God possibly say to change his mind?
The Lord said, “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. (I Kings 19:11-13)
What could God possibly say to change Elijah’s mind? Nothing. Because God doesn’t need words. His presence provides the comfort we need to keep going.
Matthew Henry comments, “Gracious souls are more often affected by the tender mercies of the Lord than by His terrors. The Lord could have spoken within the fierce wind, earthquake or fire. But instead, He chose a gentle whisper. In that moment, Elijah needed to be redirected to the mission at hand, but not before he reconnects with how much the Lord cares for him.”
Living for God can be exhausting. It’s ok to need a break. When faced with discouraging opposition, fear and anxiety may follow. It’s ok to want to run away. But the best part is that God will always meet us right where we are. He may not change our circumstances or tell us what we want to hear, but He wraps our frazzled souls in the soothing warmth of His presence. He renews and restores our heart’s passion to serve Him.
And that’s all the comfort Elijah needed.