Better Bible Study
9/28/12 at 02:30 PM 0 Comments

Gwen Smith: When There Is Nothing There

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Guest blogger: Gwen Smith

I have a Christian girlfriend who is caught between faith and a hard place. Though she is a committed Christ-follower, she struggles to believe God’s promises and feels helpless to the circumstances of her trial. She prays — but wonders if God no longer listens to her. She looks for the light at the end of the trial-tunnel, yet sees none.

Have you been there? Are you there now? God’s ways and timing are mysterious — no doubt. At times, His ways can even seem frustrating. But He is good. He provides strength and hope when we call on Him . . . but waiting on God can be such a difficult spiritual discipline.

Time and time again in Scripture we are shown beautiful pictures of God’s faithfulness to those who wait on and call upon Him. Snapshots of God’s faithfulness displayed in the life of Elijah are simply fascinating. Elijah was the most dramatic and famous of Israel’s prophets. God worked in and through him powerfully and miraculously, but even Elijah went through seasons of waiting and wondering — just like my friend. Just like each of us.

For years, Ahab (king of Israel) and his wife, Jezebel, did evil in the eyes of the Lord. They worshiped Baal — an idol — instead of the one true God, which provoked the Lord to anger. Then God called Elijah to the scene. Elijah told Ahab, “As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word” (1 Kings 17:1). As you can imagine, Ahab wasn’t too happy about that ‘word’ and, in his fury, he wanted Elijah dead. God had other plans, though. He directed and protected Elijah and provided for all his needs through the time of the drought.

God’s ways and timing are mysterious — no doubt.

In the third year, the Lord sent Elijah back to king Ahab, and a showdown of showdowns went down on Mount Carmel — a celestial boxing match with Baal and his false prophets in one corner and God and Elijah in the other. The prophets of Baal took the first swing. They made a sacrifice to their god and cried out to him for hours to consume their offering with fire. Baal was silent and unresponsive because he was not real. Duh.

Elijah knew he served a powerful, living, and responsive God, so he advanced to the center of the ring and took his swings with confidence. He repaired the altar of God, prepared the sacrifice, and then prayed for God to reveal His deity by consuming the offering. God flexed His divine muscles and answered Elijah’s prayers instantly with an all-consuming fire. Knockout!

God flexed His divine muscles and answered Elijah’s prayers instantly with an all-consuming fire.

After the showdown was over, God told Elijah to deliver a new message to King Ahab. “And Elijah said to Ahab, “Go, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a heavy rain” (1 Kings 18:41). So Ahab went to eat, and Elijah went up to the top of Mount Carmel to look for evidence of God’s rain-miracle.

“Go and look toward the sea,” he told his servant. And he went up and looked.

“There is nothing there,” he said.

Seven times Elijah said, “Go back.”

The seventh time the servant reported, “A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea” (1 Kings 18:43 – 44).

What struck me as I studied this passage is the fact that Elijah didn’t get his miracle right away this time. Could God have opened up the sky and poured out a storm immediately? You bet. Did He? No. Elijah had to wait. His servant had to look for the miracle . . . and look . . . and look . . . and look. Seven times.

Hallelujah! You and I aren’t the only ones who have to wait, friend! God’s will is God’s will. It bends for no man. Yet ours can bend to His and, as a result, we will find strength and peace — even in the waiting.

“Meanwhile, the sky grew black with clouds, the wind rose, a heavy rain came on . . .” (1 Kings 18:45a).

God moved. Once again, He was faithful. He can be no other way.

Even Elijah experienced difficult situations and was forced to wait on God.

Now think about this. God used Elijah in really big ways. Elijah spoke on God’s behalf. He was God’s front-line man in raising a dead child back to life in order to bless a widowed mother, and he was the lead character in a miraculous God-show that brought fire from heaven, consuming an offering and connecting the hearts of wandering people back to the heart of God. We’re talking big God-stuff! Yet even Elijah experienced difficult situations and was forced to wait on God.

Even Elijah experienced difficult situations and was forced to wait on God.

When discouragement sets in and you feel unheard — when you are forced to wait on God — when you find yourself caught between faith and a hard place — when there is nothing there, no evidence of God’s miracle on the horizon — remember that God is faithful, powerful, and responsive. He has seen you through trials in the past, and He will see you through trials in the future. Even in the challenges you face now, you are seen, you are heard, and He is able. “Look to the Lord and his strength; seek His face always” (Psalm 105:4).

Are you in a period of waiting? What has God brought you through? Please leave a comment below. Let’s take the conversation deeper.

This blog was originally posted on on 9/14/12 and can be read in its entirety here.

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