God speaks to us in many ways. The Bible is one of the main ways we can hear the voice of God – through the diverse human beings whose writings were gathered together to form the Scriptures. Through their accounts, stories, explorations of faith, questions, prayers, and poems, we discover the thread of God’s constant love and forgiveness for these people, and thus for us too. Despite the variety of social, cultural, political, and historical contexts in which they wrote, and the different languages in which they wrote, and even the different understandings they had of the divine, we still discover God’s voice coming through. God also speaks to us through the events and situations we experience. What I really appreciate is when we read a story in the Bible where God speaks to someone in their situation, as this can be very encouraging!
At one point in his life, the prophet Elijah was escaping some challenging situations he was facing by hiding away in a cave – most of us can probably relate to that! The story says that God’s voice came to him saying, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19.9). After telling God all the things he was struggling with, God asks him to go and stand by the mouth of the cave:
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 (1 Kings 19.11-13a).
We could probably add, “After the earthquake there was a pandemic … “! After all these uncontrollable, scary, devastating, events, “came a gentle whisper,” or “the sound of sheer silence” (NRSV). Then came the voice of God, which once again said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19.13b).
So in all the crazy events of our year, in all the clamour of the uncontrollable, and the intensity of our world, I wonder where you can find that “sound of sheer silence” and what the still, small voice of God might be saying to you? Keep your ears and eyes and hearts open to God’s voice – through the Bible, and also through what is going on in your life – and you might hear something you need to hear.