Cold Caves & Gentle Whispers
“It’s not fair. I have faithfully served the Lord, why is this happening to me?” This is something I have said many times. I bet you’ve said it too. It’s doesn’t take too long in life to begin to feel the disappointment of things not going your way. The disappointment can so easily turn into depression, anger, and frustration.
This is where Elijah found himself in 1 Kings 19. Elijah has a great victory, but when his life is threatened, he flees. Eventually he finds himself in a cave of depression. In the coldness of the cave the “woe is me’s” begin to set in.
Caves are awful places. Cold. Dark. Lonely. Sooner or later we all seem find ourselves in a cave. Of course we all may feel the depths of the cave differently, but most have these characteristics.
What led you to your cave? Maybe it was a disappointment of a career choice. An “unanswered” prayer. A challenging relationship — spouse, child, friend. For many of us it is a disappointment in ministry. We thought things would look different. Be…different. We thought we would be farther along by this point in life.
The cave is dark, cold, depressing, and lonely. We may not live in the cave, but we visit it often. Caves can be prisons of our insecurity or unmet expectations. They can be places where the dream begins to fade in the darkness.
At least that is what a cave can be if you stop the story right there. But fortunately for us, the story doesn’t end there. In verses 11-18 God tell Elijah to “Go out and stand before me on this mountain.” It was there that God spoke to Elijah in an unexpected way — a gentle voice.
The thing about a cave is it seems to be where we hear the still small voice. It was in the cold, dark cave — all alone — where Elijah heard the voice of the Lord. Not in the wind or the earthquake — not in the fire, but in the gentle whisper.
A cave is a dangerous place. There’s a crossroad in the the cave. Will we retreat further into the cave — into the darkness, the cold. Or will we “Go out” and wait on the Lord. Will we listen for the gentle whisper speaking into our lives?
The cave is good at stirring things up. It’s good at forcing us to deal with our stuff. But it can also be a place where we finally hear God’s voice.
Help, I’m Stuck In A Cave! Now what?
We all inevitably find ourselves in a cave, but when you do, pick your head up out of your sorrow.
Here are a few things I’ve learned to do that help me as I’m discerning God’s voice:
- Worship! Don’t stop worshiping. Even if the feelings aren’t there, worship because God is worthy.
- Be faithful. God responds to the faithfulness of His children. Continue to serve Him even when it’s difficult.
- Continue to read God’s Word. God often speaks to a situation through showing us stories, principles, and lessons through His word
- Work on it. What is “it”? Only you will know, but if God is dealing with you while you’re in the cave, be courageous. Most of the time these things will not fix themselves. God will lead us, but we have to put one foot in front of the other as we work towards emotional health.
- Seek help. The cave can feel like a lonely place, but the truth is we are usually not alone. God has placed friends, pastors and counselors in our lives to help us work through our issues. Don’t tough it out alone. Use your lifelines.
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