A Season of Hiddenness

“I have had enough, Lord.”  The words of the prophet Elijah, from 1 Kings 19 could easily have been written by me.  Overcome by discouragement, exhaustion, and grief, Elijah’s prayer communicated his desire for the Lord to relieve him from the pressures of his life.  Weary from battle, from ministering to a stubborn people, and from being a lonely voice for God’s truth, his discouragement came from a place that desired for God’s standard.  

The response to that prayer?  God’s provision and a journey to a place where he would be hidden in a cave. 

Like the prophet Elijah, I feel like I am in a season where God has hidden me in a cave.  Elijah wasn’t hiding, but he was hidden.  He was hidden for his own protection, and for a season. He was hidden so that God could prepare him, give him rest, and strengthen him so that later he could use him to fulfill his calling. 

This wasn’t the first time that God hid Elijah.  Earlier, in 1 Kings 17, Elijah was hidden by a river, and God promised to send ravens to feed Elijah.  Ravens.  That made no sense.  Elijah had never experienced or seen that before.  Others would not have predicted that God would work in that way.  Yet, that is exactly what God did.

Like Elijah, in this season, God has been sending ravens to nourish and feed me.  As I am in my cave, or my river, or whatever you want to call working from my bedroom during the coronavirus, I feel so different than the life I have lived for the last 7 years…. The last 17 years…. Normally I am with the public every day.  Now I am with myself every day.  My children are at school, my husband is at work.  Even church is no longer a space to be fed in this season.  It makes no sense.  I have never experienced or seen God work in this way before.  My mentors and friends would not have predicted that God would work in this way.  Yet it is exactly what God is doing.

So I wait for the ravens.

I don’t recognize them when they come.  But after they have gone, I feel fed, nurtured, refreshed, pastored.

The ravens come in the form of professors, counselors, spiritual directors, books, articles, assignments.  I thought that starting my masters degree during the pandemic would help me to feel like I am not wasting the time.  It certainly does that, but it is doing something else.  It is bringing to me the nourishment, the soul care that I need.  That I have needed for quite some time.  I am slowly learning that our hearts become restored and healed in our seasons of hiddenness.

Last week during a moment of worship, God showed me a picture of a sonogram.  It was clearly a sonogram, much like the ones I got when I was pregnant with each of my children, and the Lord used that picture to reveal to my heart that I am in fact expecting.  Just because what He is doing is hidden, doesn’t mean He isn’t working together a miracle.  Preparing internally for what will eventually be seen externally.  Just like when you are expecting a child, preparations need to be made.  The Lord helped me to understand that I need to prepare like I would if I was expecting a child.  When you are expecting a child, you get the room ready, you prepare your heart, you purchase the tools you will need to handle the responsibility that God gives you.  It’s a temporary season of growth and pain that will eventually give birth to new life.

So I prepare.  I expect.  I receive.  And I wait.  

The way that Elijah comes out of the cave is different than what you might imagine.  The Lord did tell Elijah to expect Him, that He was getting ready to pass by.  But He didn’t come in the obvious.  He came in the stillness.

A great and powerful wind, but the Lord was not in the wind.

After the wind, an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.

After the earthquake, a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire.

After the fire, came a gentle whisper.  It was in this whisper that the Lord spoke, giving Elijah direction, pulling him out of his season of hiddenness.

As I wait for the Lord to pull me out of this season, I recognize that it’s in the stillness that I will hear His voice.

Numb.

If I had to describe what I have been feeling lately, it’s numb.

I didn’t want to be numb.  It’s just kind of what happened.

2020 has been a year of so many things.  Things that I didn’t think I would see in my lifetime: Prince Harry leaving the throne, murder hornets, Disney World being closed, Kanye West running for president, BLM protests, election violence, churches closing, so many people dying.  The list goes on and on.  There actually is a list on my phone, simply labeled 2020.  If I read the list out loud, it sounds ridiculous.  Yet, here we are.

I got to this place where it all just became too much.  Too much to explain to my kids, too much to process myself.  As much as I want to pray for everyone and everything, where do you start? 

A hard season does that to you.  A hard year does that to you.  But a pandemic?  On top of all the other things that have been going on this year?  I just got to this place that I don’t even have the words.  

All I have is emotions.  And what do you do with emotions when there is no way to resolve them?  It’s not like screaming or having a fit will suddenly make my husbands looming second lay off of the year hurt our finances less.  It’s not as if drowning my sorrows in a tub of ice cream will bring back so many people that died.  Nothing I can do will change things.

I think that’s why I am struggling right now.  I am a justice warrior.  My enneagram 8 temperament pushes me to be a world changer.  I don’t know what it means to be still.  I can’t.  I keep going no matter what, that’s my M.O.  

Except right now, my hands are tied.  I can’t be proactive in any way, other than stocking up on toilet paper, and now I am judged for even doing that.  

One of the things that I have been learning in this season is that it is ok to be not ok.  Let me say that again.

It is OK to not be OK.

So what do we do?  If you are anything like me, this is a hard spot to be in.  I want to DO something.  And because I can’t DO anything, even resolve my own feelings, I settle into a place of being numb.  And I don’t want to be numb.

I was encouraged this past week by a reminder that Jesus, when faced with hard things, spent a lot of time praying the Psalms.  Throughout the gospels, we see Jesus echoing words from various Psalms.  In fact, it’s the book that Jesus is recorded as quoting more than any other book.  When He was pressed, it was the Psalms that came out.  

Jesus used the words of the Psalms as the language for His prayers.  So in moments where we don’t even know how to pray, the Psalms can become our language too.

There is no fancy plan.  There has been no exegetical study.  I am learning that the Psalms are not to be understood so much as they are to be prayed.  They put words to the emotions we are having, and they take them to Jesus.  

You see, I think there is something Holy about this season we are in.  

If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we are unable to do anything on our own.  The truth is, we never could.  

Any illusion that suggested otherwise was exactly that, an illusion.  So in my helplessness, I turn to Him.  And I pray the Psalms.

Want to join me?

Just praying one Psalm a day.  Starting at the beginning.  And if you miss a day, it’s ok.  Just keep going.  And when you get to something that you feel, that you identify with, feel it.  Allow yourself to feel it in the presence of Jesus.  Welcome Him into that place of pain or fear or anger.  He’s been waiting for you to invite Him into that place.  Because it’s the only way you will heal.

Praying for you, Friends.

Rach