A Cure for Fear (and Many Other Ailments)
“’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. Then a voice said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?... Go back the way you came’” (1 Kings 19:11-13;15A).
The life of Elijah was one characterized by power; that’s how most people remember him anyway.
During his years as a prophet in Israel, he put together quite a resume: he defended the worship of God over that of the false deity Baal, raised a young man from the dead, prevented rain from falling for over two years, and on several occasions, called down fire from Heaven.
One would think that a man with so much experience – a person who walked so closely with God – would be fearless. But one would be wrong. Elijah experienced times of trepidation and fear just like the rest of us.
In the passage above, Elijah has just traveled 40 days to flee the wrath of a corrupt ruler and is sheltering in a cave. A man intimately acquainted with the power of God is experiencing a low point, and his confidence is waning.
But God, ever faithful to His people, has the perfect remedy for Elijah’s apprehension. He speaks to Elijah, not in a violent earthquake or a blazing fire, but a gentle whisper: “What are you doing here, Elijah? Go back the way you came and go to the Desert of Damascus…” (vv.13/15).
God’s solution – what will become the cure for Elijah’s crippling fear – is a simple one: obedience.
What of the threats that await Elijah? Those are not his concern. God will deal with those in his own time, and they are not permitted to hinder Elijah’s obedience.
Have you ever had a moment like this? A moment where you hoped God would fix your problems without you having to face them? A moment where you chose to shelter in fear instead of facing your troubles?
Nearly all of us are sheltered at the moment, and not necessarily by choice. But in the process, many of us are being made acutely aware of our own struggles and anxieties.
Whether you’re one who’s currently struggling with fear, like Elijah, or your struggle is something different (boredom, restlessness, loneliness), remember God’s instructions to the sheltered prophet.
When we remain obedient to God despite our fears, He is able to use our lives for His glory. And often, it is through that very process – the process of radical obedience – that He enables us to overcome our fears altogether.