This is the same thing being offered to us when we are fed up with the struggles of this life, the struggles of keeping faithful. God still speaks to us from the pages of the scriptures asking, “What are you doing here?”1 not in an accusatory way but in an inviting way, in a caring way, offering to enter into our frustrations and to light the way out of our struggles. But there is a catch here. We have to be listening for the question, we have to tune into the word of God. Otherwise, we will never hear God amidst the racket of the world around us. This passage reminds us, “Now there was a great wind … but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire sheer silence … then there came a voice”.2
God is not in the racket, in the loudness. But rather when all that settles, he is there in the silence whispering an invitation to us, asking us, “What are we doing there”. He is asking us to share with him and to allow him access to our hearts. Being open to the silent presence of God is not easy. Thomas Merton wrote, “Just remaining quietly in the presence of God, listening to [God], being attentive to [God], requires a lot of courage and know how”.3 It required something of Elijah and it requires something out of each one of us. It requires a depth of trust and reliance on God and not the idols of this world. It requires perhaps hearing from God that which makes us uncomfortable and it requires us to come before God with authenticity and with the rawness of our emotions. Then we are asked to do as God calls us to do in response.
Our God will be our champion. He offers us renewal from the frustrations of living into his message and revitalization to those who are feeling burned out. He heard the rawness of Elijah’s frustrations, anger, and tiredness from being a prophet to an uncaring, idol ridden people. God heard his burn out and then promised to bring his justice. But it required Elijah going back into that dangerous population, going back to work for the word of God, and to continue on as the mouth piece of God.
When we are burned out, we should hear the invitation of God to unburden our souls. Remembering the words of Christ when he said “Come to me all you who are weary and I will give you rest”.4 We should place our stress, our anxiety before God and then seek to live more fully into the ways of God, trusting that he will give us what we need to continue moving forward in life. Our challenge is to trust in God, to seek God, to seek his inspiration and renewal in the silence of the world around us. Seek God this week, not in the storms, not in the winds, not in the earthquakes but in the calm that comes in the wake of chaos. Let’s not give into our anger, our tiredness, and our very human desire to give up. Let’s learn from Elijah. Let us take the occasional break from that which causes us anxiety and allow for God to renew us and to touch our lives in those moments of quietness. Let us place our trust in the Lord and feel the blessings that come from it.
1 Kings 19: 9, RSV.
2 Kings 19: 12, RSV.
3 Thomas Merton, 20th century Theologian.
4 Matthew 11: 28, RSV.