When There Is Nothing There

Gwen Smith Blog, Faith, Prayer 12 Comments

I have a 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 – daily looking for the light at the end of the trial-tunnel, yet seeing none.

Have you been there? Are you, or is someone you love, there now?

God’s ways and timing are mysterious – no doubt. At times, His ways can even seem frustrating. But He is good. He graciously 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 Him and call on Him. Snapshots of God’s faithfulness displayed in the life of Elijah are simply fascinating. (Pause to read chapters 17 and 18 of 1 Kings now.)

Elijah was the most dramatic and famous of all 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, had done 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 throughout the time of the drought.

In the third year, the Lord sent Elijah back to king Ahab, and a showdown of showdowns went down on Mount Carmel. Like a celestial boxing match with Baal and his false prophets in one corner and God and Elijah in the other, a battle began. 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. Knock out!

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 I 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.

Now think about this. God used Elijah in really big ways. Elijah spoke on God’s behalf, 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.

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)

 

Dear Lord,
I worship You, the One, true God! You are mighty and powerful; full of never-ending compassion and love. Please help me to see you when I face trials and to trust Your heart when circumstances discourage me.”

In Jesus’s Name I pray,
Amen.

 

FOR YOUR REFLECTION and RESPONSE

Write this verse out: “Look to the Lord and his strength; seek His face always.” (Psalm 105:4) Keep it handy. Read it out loud. Speak it to your heart. Memorize it.

Is there someone in your life who is in a period of waiting? Do something to encourage them today. If she is in a financial bind, consider writing a note and sending it with a gift card. If she is struggling with a strained marriage, a complicated job frustration, or a difficult parenting situation, reach out to her. Pray for her. If you know a single mom, consider helping her with her children. Allow God to encourage someone through you today.

Comments 12

  1. Gwen, as much as I hate to admit it, I am o e of those people that is in a period of waiting. But I have been there for almost a year. I feel empty. When I try to pray, I feel like God isn’t out there anymore. So I don’t pray much and don’t read my Bible regularly. And before you say anything, I already know that this is contributing to my struggle greatly. Add to that my lifelong battle with depression and I feel like I am drowning and coming up for air for the third time.

    I don’t know what to do or which way to turn. I am not asking you for any answers; just venting, I guess.

    1. Post
      Author

      Thanks for sharing your heart here. I hate that you’re feeling this way, but know that God can and will meet you even in this dark place when you call to Him. You might want to try listening to the Bible being read to you while you do laundry and household chores. I use the Bible app and do it all the time. It’s a simple way to redirect your soul with the Word. I’m stopping to pray for you right now.

      In Christ,
      GWEN

  2. 5 minutes ago I was on my knees telling God to please help my husband get better from his illness. Questioning God why was it taking too long for him to heal him.
    Then I went on your site on Facebook and was amazed how he did hear my prayers and used Gwens message on waiting to answer me.

    1. Post
      Author

      Amazing! God is so good! I’m stopping to pray for your husband (and you) right now, Cristina.

      Blessings in Christ,
      GWEN

  3. I hope it was okay that I shared the link to this video I prepared last week to the person above who commented about still struggling with their terrible trials in this world…. I want to share this video with you all that I put together last week – called “The Storms in our Lives” which has some lovely instrumental music and words that will hopefully encourage your heart to keep focused on what’s ahead and not what’s currently going on or has happened in the past….. I still am in the midst of my storms, but I do know that the Lord will eventually get me through these issues as long as I hold on to Him and trust Him that he is there for me always! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_byBM_SNhGI

  4. AJ…
    You are not alone sister. I’m there with you too. I’ve had 30 years of praying for my husband to stop having affairs and lying just for him to leave me for another woman. I’m not sure of your situation but i know how you are feeling. Abandoned and alone. I do believe God is with us I just don’t care for his timing… Faith can be a hard thing in times as we are having. Don’t give up on Him!

  5. I hear what your saying, but I’m at the point where I just don’t care anymore. I know God hear’s me he has before. I just want him to bring me home. I hate it here.

    1. bless your heart….I understand totally where you are and how hard it is…..Please don’t give up…..even though it is so difficult walking through these horrible storms…. I want to share this video with you that I put together last week and posted it on YouTube – called “The Storms in our Lives” which has some lovely instrumental music and words that will hopefully encourage your heart to keep focused on what’s ahead and not what’s currently going on or has happened in the past….. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_byBM_SNhGI

  6. Thank you for being obedient to the Holy Spirit today. His words have reached my heart and confirmed what He was telling me early this morning. You truly have no idea!

  7. “Wait patiently for the LORD. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the LORD.” – Psalm 27:14

    I pray the LORD will give me strength & courage to wait PATIENTLY for Him to act. Patience is not one of my strong points, unfortunately. But I do know the LORD will help me get through this season of waiting. And on the flip side, I will see the glory of the Lord!

    Thank you for this wonderful & insightful article.

    God bless you always!!

  8. Thank you Gwen for your message today. I’m between Faith and a hard place too, like your friend so I was greatly encouraged. Waiting for my ‘rain’ to come and praying for the ‘divine’ guide to the waiting: Elijah prayed as He waited and sent his servant 7 times to see if there was any sign of rain. May I be guided in my waiting Lord and honour You.

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