Following his encounter with the priests of Baal, the Prophet Elijah was threatened by the wicked queen Jezebel who vowed to take his life.
As recorded in the 19th chapter of 1 Kings, Elijah mourned over the wickedness of Israel and requested of the Lord that he might die. "It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers." (1 Kings 19:4.) But the prophet was sustained by angels who ministered unto him, and after 40 days and nights he came to Horeb, the mount of God.There he lodged in a cave, hiding as it were, when the word of the Lord came to him and said: "What doest thou here, Elijah?" (1 Kings 19:9.) In despair he lamented: "I have been very jealous for the Lord God of Hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away." (1 Kings 19:10.)
Then the Lord sent a great and strong wind that rent the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces. Then came an earthquake, and then a fire. But the message to Elijah was not in these tumultuous acts of nature. It came in a still small voice that said again: "What doest thou here, Elijah?" (1 Kings 19:13.) In that still, yet forceful voice, Elijah was given instructions from the Lord about the continuation of his ministry, counsel that he accepted. He then went forth to do the Lord's bidding.
There are lessons for us in this scriptural account. We may be discouraged by happenings around us. We may despair over events that have taken place. Others may have hurt our feelings, or we may be very disappointed by circumstances that do not turn in our favor.
When such things happen we often look for figurative caves in which to hide. We hide in caves of bitterness, caves of feeling inadequate about our abilities, caves of discouragement, and even caves of apathy.
There are also other caves in which we sometimes hide ourselves, such as caves of loneliness, sin or denial. Sometimes we seek to hide through working extra long hours at our jobs, or plunging into excessive recreational pursuits or social life.
Whatever our caves of escape we need to remember that the voice of the Lord is as much to us as it was to Elijah: "What doest thou here?"
Perhaps the query of Saul, later Paul the Apostle, on the road to Damascus contains the question we should ask.
Saul was en route to Damascus to persecute the followers of Christ when he was surrounded by a bright light from heaven. He fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying: "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?
"And he said, Who art thou, Lord: and the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
"And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" (Acts 9:4-6.)
The response given both by Elijah and Saul was to listen and obey.
What would Jesus have us do? He would have us keep Him at the center of our lives so that when difficult times come we can rely on Him and not be buffeted by every wind or tempest that besets us. He is our anchor and our stay in every need we have.
He would have us find solutions to our challenges, not by hiding in caves, or seeking the advice or counsel of those in the world, but rather through the gospel. The scriptures contain the truths that will help us in any and every challenge.
He would also have us seek help through fasting and prayer. The humility and sublimity of fasting coupled with the power of prayer yield answers far beyond any solutions of the world.
He would have us reach out and serve others who need us. True, many of our hurts come from the unkind acts of others, but when we overlook their misdeeds, forget our own hurts, and help bind up the wounds of others, we quickly get out of our caves and in the process bind up our own wounds as well.
And especially He would have us magnify whatever calling or roles we have by following this wise counsel: "Wherefore, be faithful; stand in the office which I have appointed unto you; succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees.
"And if thou art faithful unto the end thou shalt have a crown of immortality, and eternal life in the mansions which I have prepared in the house of my Father.
"Behold, and lo, these are the words of Alpha and Omega, even Jesus Christ. Amen." (D&C 81:5-7.)