Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then there came a voice to him that said, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’ (I Kings 19:11b-13)
This period of pandemic has been very disruptive. For everyone it has been an inconvenience, but for many it has been devastating. People losing jobs, people getting sick and dying or suffering irreparable harm, people overwhelmed by anxiety and stress, global upheaval, and lost hope for the future. Metaphorically, we are witnessing the wind, the earthquake, and the fire in our lives caused by the coronavirus, and it is easy to get stuck in all the negativity it produces.
But consider for a moment: what if this is a gift? What if this is a time of separation and distancing that allows us to enter into a time of silence? We are asked to spend more time at home, there are fewer places to go, fewer people to see; we could turn off the phones and the computers and the televisions, and we could stand “at the entrance of our caves” and enter the silence.
The silence can be an uncomfortable, even terrifying, place, but it is also the space in which we can finally and truly listen for the voice of God. What is God trying to say to us today? What can we learn from the current reality in which we find ourselves? How are we growing stronger, smarter, kinder, and more compassionate through this pandemic? Where are we finding God in the midst of all the turmoil.
We can feel swept away, shaken, and burned by what is happening in our world today – this is natural and understandable. But by God’s grace, Christ’s abiding presence, and the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit, we can move powerfully through this challenging time, perhaps with a clear answer to God’s question, “what are you doing here?”
Prayer: Almighty and generous God, hear our prayer. We need a firm foundation, a solid place to stand during this time of turmoil, confusion, and disruption. Help us to see through the storm, the earthquake, and the fire to find a silent place, a place of calm and comfort where we may turn our full attention to you. Speak to us words of promise, of purpose, and of hope. Help us to be the people you need us to be as minsters to one another and everyone we meet. We ask this humbly, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
May this devotion provide you with a moment of faithful reflection and care. You are involved in ministries of justice and witness, in ministries of standing up and standing with people working to create better systems and communities, in ministries of learning and searching and researching to become more aware and awakened, more technologically savvy and proficient, more virtually and personally present in your churches and communities and world. Each of us who serve as members of your Wisconsin Cabinet write these devotions in grateful prayer for you – for sustenance and buoyancy, for strength and courage, for safety and just actions, and for faith and love to be full and fulfilled in your daily lives. God’s grace and blessings, God’s challenge and healthy discomfort, God’s Spirit and energy be with you, in the hope Christ offers us all.