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Today’s Truth

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

Friend to Friend

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)

Let’s Pray

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.

Now It’s Your Turn

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.

More from the Girlfriends

FREE E-BOOK: If you’re like most women, you have things in your past that you’d like to forget or things in your present that are stressing you out. The result? Pain. Shame. Frustration. God is all about healing, restoration and peace. Gwen’s downloadable FREE 5 Day Broken Into Beautiful e-book will help to move your heart in this direction of hope. CLICK HERE to download yours now.

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9 Responses to “When There Is Nothing There”

  1. Carole says:

    I’m in that hard place just now. Some days I strruggle & when just when I think I can’t go on hoping, a dear friend has just the right words to keep me going. Thank you for a timely reminder and for your encouragement.

  2. Kim says:

    This is me! All of the above scenarios. The faith struggle as the hardships go on and on and on and on. Difficult marriage to an abuser, financial stresses, loss of 2 beautiful granddaughters, job changes, an im coming to realize, an abusive parent. I feel like all I do is pray and wait. Pray and wait, pray more and wait more. I’m tired, I’m broken and I feel as if I’ve got no place in this world. I’ve reached out to the church, no one “hears” me. I feel I invisible. When does the sadness stop? God has put some things on my heart, however I have no idea how to do it. So my frustration and despair, and yes disappointment grow. This is NOT who I want to be.

    • BB says:

      Don’t lose hope Kim. OUR God El-Roi absolutely “sees you” and knows everything you are up against. Keep trusting him and focus on the hope you have in him. No matter what happens in your life, you will never be alone. He promised us that. Keep crying out, keep praising, keep reading his Word. Keep doing what you know to do until God gives you the next step. I’ll be praying for you!

    • Dee says:

      Kim,

      My heart goes out to you. I too felt trapped in an abusive marriage. I prayed endlessly for God to change my husband’s heart. Years upon years I waited to no avail. It was torture living there and torture leaving. I didn’t have a job. I had been a stay at home mom and home schooled my 4 children for 15 years. I begged God for help, change, a window … anything … and I waited. I waited for years. When the sky finally did open up, it opened up in a big way. It took courage on my part to get me and my children out but God did it all. He provided the job that would allow us to leave. I had no financial help what so ever. He provided a clean, safe and unexpectedly beautiful place to live. The ball started rolling and it didn’t stop. I have been divorced for four years now. Today I own my own home. It is a beautiful Williamsburg style home. My life has gone on. My children are doing well. Your life will go on too. They sky will open up and you will begin to see God move. Just remember you are a princess – a king’s kid. He will make a way. He just will.

      Hugs!

  3. Naomi says:

    Take courage, God is with you in your frustration and despair! We may weep for a while, but joy comes in the morning! Though it seems like there is no hope, you can be sure that “God hears your cries, and counts your tears,” and in due time, He “will lift up your head.” It may seem like there is no hope now, but continue waiting, seeking, pleading and hoping in Him! One day, very soon, you will see the reason for all of your suffering. It may be for character development, the ability to sympathize and encourage others going through the same situation, who knows? There is a method, to what seems like His madness. Keep at it until your miracle comes, just as Elijah did in the story. Do not stop until you have your miracle. Put God to the test. HE is faithful!

    Luke 18:1-8

    The Parable of the Persistent Widow

    18 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2 He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. 3 And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’

    4 “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”

    6 And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7 And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8 I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

  4. Bianca says:

    Oh wow this message so spoke to me today, where do I start? I feel exactly like this like I’m always praying but nothing happens, at times I wonder if God hears my prayers, like do I pray right? why is he not answering me, I try to still my mind many days trying to hear him speak yet find it difficult to hear his voice. I am currently is a marriage where my husband has resorted to gambling this has been a struggle that has somehow always been there and has been dealt with before however it has seemed to resurface, I cannot begin to express and explain the pain, anger and hurt I feel about this…where my life is heading I have all these questions with no answers, the financial strain this has put on me I have no words, I do not know how or where to start to address any of this. I feel absolutely lost and ashamed and cannot understand why this is happening to me. Life is tough I know that and nothing is smooth sailing but really I just need a break….its not easy and especially at times like these my faith feels so weak like I have no pulse….

  5. Rosemary says:

    I want to thank whoever came up with this message today because it really spoke to me. I went through a divorce 6 months ago after being married for 34 years and I have been feeling unmotivated with life. I fully trust in God and I know he has a plan for me it’s just hard waiting.

  6. God reponds to our prayers and tears. We must find a way to rest in the fact that Jesus paid the priice, and to be still and let Him be God. I have found that when I try to work things out I just mess up His job.

  7. Shirley says:

    As I was reading all of these letters, each one had a part of what i am going through. a verbal abusive husband. I have being married almost 30 years and i do not feel loved, I’m always sad but puts on a good face to the world so they would not see my pain and suffering. My daughter has left and does not speak to her dad and she does not speak to me because she thinks that i should leave him but it is such a decision to make. i am very fearful of the unknown and also i think i would be embarrass of being a failure at my marriage. He drinks and he can be a mean. I’m working but i am not in a financial secure position. Sometimes or most of the time i wonder to myself what went wrong for me to deserve this kind of treatment. I cry out to God and ask to show me a way.

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