Crash! Bang! Boom! Calamity strikes again. Wham! Blam! Pow! A natural disaster here, an environmental crisis there. Shocking sights and sounds rock our world. Social, political, economic pressures challenge our familiar. It’s like we’re living in a minefield. Nerves are on edge. Emotions are raw. Everyone is left wondering what jolter will hit next.
We’re not even quite sure who or what is behind everything going berserk. Could be that all this chaos is man made. If we cleaned up our act, better yet cleaned up everyone else’s act, or became more environmentally conscious, things might smooth out.
Perhaps the problem is spiritual, and man’s sin is bursting at the seams. Or Satan’s hatred for God and man has reached the next level. These many troubles could very-well be appetizers of God’s fast-approaching end-time judgments. Or a combination of all the above.
We scramble to address these multifarious crises in prayer, knowing that there is still a hard road ahead as end-time prophesies approach their climax. We clean up messes left and right, we contend with the enemy to gain ground, to keep ground, to reclaim lost ground. Still the problems keep coming at us like tidal waves. And we wonder why our souls feel like fallen leaves blown helter-skelter by blustery winds.
When the warfare gets to be too much, battle fatigue sets in. The idea of turning inward becomes more appealing. If not subdued, dejection and disillusionment take root and we emotionally detach in an attempt to survive.
Could this be anything close to what Elijah felt in 1 Kings 19? Did the three-and-a-half-year drought wear on him any? Was he ever on edge, not knowing who God would use to provide his next meal, whether it be ravens, some hungry widow, or angels? [i] Were his nerves even a little bit frazzled while he witnessed 450 prophets of Baal slice and dice themselves in a big hoopla of leaping and shouting to their god all day long to no avail? Did the fearsome blaze of heavenly fire that devoured everything on and around the LORD’s altar rock his senses? Was the smell of charred wood still in his nostrils and the smoky aftertaste in his mouth when he spearheaded the slaying of those same 450 bloody and exhausted prophets of Baal? Did the masses of his countrymen turning back to God take his breath away? Could running a twenty-mile marathon in a torrential downpour and arriving in Jezreel to the vengeful threats of a demonized woman with power be what finally tipped Elijah’s sanity scale? [ii]
He was shellshocked I tell you. Traumatized from ministering in a war zone. He had risked life and limb to obey God, and all was for naught it seemed. Now he would die a humiliating death at the hand of Jezebel. “It’s too much, LORD,” he prayed. “Take away my life . . .” [iii]
Elijah was desperate for some semblance of peace and solitude and that's why he fled.
Only to have God instruct him to go to the terrifying and intimidating Mount Sinai so He could pass by with hurricane-strength winds that tore the ground Elijah stood on, and make a second pass with an earthquake that rattled his bones, and then pass by a third time with a blaze of fire.
But the LORD wasn’t in the wind. He wasn’t in the earthquake. Nor was He in the fire. [iv] How could God—whose voice is like thunder, who communicates through a whirlwind, who announces His presence by an earthquake, whose presence sets Mount Sinai ablaze with fire and gloom and darkness and a raging storm—make that many dramatic passes in front of Elijah and not be in them? [v]
Maybe He was just flexing His muscles. Strong men can flex their muscles without putting their heart and soul into it. It’s easy. They do it because they can. Almighty God flexed His muscles before His people. He flexed them before His adversaries. And now through wind, earthquake, and fire before His exhausted and dejected prophet.
If I were Elijah, I wouldn’t step out from the shelter of that rock cave either. What his shellshocked soul needed at that moment (and God knew that) was to hear the consoling whisper of God as his friend, to experience afresh that heart-and-soul connection that would empower him “to return to his post of duty” [vi]
It’s what our frazzled souls need as well. If we’re to stay faithful in this crash-bang-boom world where God has only begun to flex His end-time muscles. we need to hear the consoling whisper of God as our friend, to experience that same heart-and-soul connection with Him so we can keep on with the duties He’s called us to do.