There he came to a cave and lodged in it. And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. I Kings 19:9-13a ESV
The Lord is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities. Psalm 103:8-10 ESV
When American soldiers are fighting or stationed in foreign countries, the people, especially the children, are often afraid of them. The military has guns and other powerful weapons that could hurt people. American soldiers don’t always want people to be afraid of them. Many of them especially want to help and protect the children. One thing that people in the American military have done for many years is to sometimes give candy and gum to children in the foreign countries where they are. Children are very happy to get these treats, and it helps them understand that the soldiers don’t want to hurt them, but instead are there to help and protect them.
When God came to meet Elijah where he was hiding in a cave in the desert, he didn’t show himself to Elijah in power and destruction. He showed Elijah a strong wind that tore rocks apart, and he showed Elijah an earthquake that shook the earth, and then he showed him a fire that burned plants and trees and grass, but God wasn’t in any of these things. It was only when God spoke in a low whisper that Elijah knew the voice of God and came out of his cave to meet him.
When God speaks and acts in anger and judgment over sin, we are afraid of God because we know we deserve his punishment. But God is good and loving, and he coaxes us to come to him with quiet, gentle words. He doesn’t want to hurt and punish us, even though that’s what our sins deserve, but instead he wants to forgive us. He sent Jesus to come to us in love and gentleness. Jesus died on the cross to take all of our sins away, and because of Jesus we have peace with God. We don’t ever have to be afraid to come to God in prayer, because we know that he forgives our sins and loves us and will hear and answer us.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for loving and forgiving us for Jesus’ sake. Amen.