“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 19:12-13

Monday, 31 August 2020

1 Kings 19:11-13

Elijah was a great prophet, one of Israel’s bravest men. He confronts and condemns the godless king. The king, Ahab, gets so angry with Elijah that he has him locked away for three years. This, however, does not stop Elijah. When he came out of hiding, Elijah returns to inform Ahab that he is disobedient to God. He arranges a duel between Ahab’s god, Baal, and Israel’s God, Yahweh. Ahab accepts the challenge.

This account reveals Elijah’s faith in God, his trust that God will listen to his prayer. God answers Elijah’s prayer and he defeats the prophets of Baal.

However, just after this impressive display of faith and courage, Elijah suffers burnout and feels abandoned by God, he runs for his life, he is now a frightened man. Suddenly his great faith and courage are lost. He can no longer hear the voice of God. Notice how God responds to Elijah: God feeds him and God patiently listens to his frustration and anxiety.

Elijah discovers that God is not in the bold and grandiose. He is not in the powerful wind that shatters the rocks, he is not in the earthquake and he is not in the fire. God is in the gentle whisper. It is in that whisper that Elijah hears God saying “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

The dynamic Elijah faces is also our story. There are times when we have great faith and courage and trust God. There are times too, when we feel the loss of God’s presence, when we feel burnt out and abandoned.

Often, like Elijah, we seek God in the bold and grandiose. We want to see miracles and displays of God’s power to feel secure. We are tempted to think that God will appear and act like many of the celebrities we uphold. God often comes in the least expected way, in the quiet and gentle whispers of our everyday life. We are often unaware of or miss out on God’s daily presence in our lives.

Can you find God in the gentle whispers of your daily life? Where is God for you now, today?


You are not a God of grandiosity. You meet me where I am, even if I do not see your presence. Give me the ability to see you today. Open my eyes to see you in the ordinary whispers of my daily rhythm.


Fr Russell Pollitt SJ

Fr Russell Pollitt SJ is the Director of the Jesuit Institute and is interested in the impact that communications technology has on society and spirituality. He regularly comments on South African Politics and various issues in the Catholic Church.

director@jesuitinstitute.org.za @rpollittsj
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