1 Kings 19:3 is one of the most encouraging verses in the Bible. Before I tell you what it says, let me tell you why it encourages me. There was a prophet in the Old Testament named Elijah, and the miracles he performed were legendary. He declared a drought, and it didn’t rain for three years. He raised a man from the dead. He was fed meals by angels and birds brought him steak dinners. He called down fire from the sky. He made river water separate so he could walk across. This is the kind of power he possessed.
So now let me tell you what 1 Kings 19:3 says:
1 Kings 19:3
“Elijah was afraid and fled for his life.”
It may sound strange to describe this as an encouraging Bible verse, but it encourages me because if a prophet who did the miracles he did felt fear, that means fear isn’t an indictment on my spiritual life. Everyone feels afraid, even men who can call down fire from the sky.
You’ll never guess what made him so afraid, a woman. That’s it, just one woman. To be fair, she was scary, but Elijah had just witnessed God destroy 400 men and send fire from the sky. Shouldn’t his previous victory have given him the faith to stand courageously in the face of a smaller fear than the one he had just faced? Sure. I guess. But Elijah’s story is a reminder that fear is irrational. There’s no rhyme or reason to the things that scare us to death. Women who have delivered another human being out of their body are scared of spiders. The same people who fly in airplanes are terrified to climb ladders. Faith comes and goes.
So what does God say to Elijah? How does God respond to his irrational, overreacting, anxiety, and fear? Probably not like you think. First, He lets Elijah sleep. Then He cooks him a good meal. Then God speaks.
1 Kings 19:11-13
And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.
The voice of fear roars in your life, but God’s voice is a soothing, calming voice. He doesn’t try to match the volume of fear. Like a good father, it’s his calming presence that brings calm.
When one of my kids falls and scrapes their knee or slams their finger in the door, and they run to me screaming, I don’t try to talk over them. I use a gentle tone, “It’s going to be ok. Where does it hurt?” As I softly speak to them, they begin to calm down. I’m always amazed at the power of my voice in my children’s life. We can be in a large crowd or a loud place, but somehow they hear my voice and know where it’s coming from. I think that’s what Jesus meant when he said, “My sheep know my voice.” (John 10:27) When the sound of fear adds to the chaos, the still small voice of God pierces through the noise and calms the storms in me. “Shhhhhhh.”
The original Hebrew translation for the gentle whisper Elijah recognized that day means, “a silence that can be heard.” It’s describing those moments when you don’t hear God’s voice, but his presence speaks volumes.
Are you afraid right now? Is your mind racing with thoughts of “what if?” Are you worried about your future or failure? Take encouragement from Elijah, even the mightiest men of God freak out sometimes.
When you feel afraid the best thing you can do is get still enough and quiet enough to hear God. The Bible is clear; He is near to us, especially when our spirits are crushed. (Psalm 34:18) Do what Elijah did: Take a good nap, eat a good meal, find a good friend, and have a good talk with God.