“What are you doing here?” This was the question asked by the angel of God to Elijah, as he hid in a cave, gripped with fear, anxiety and uncertainty. Seems to me that maybe some of us might relate to Elijah, given the recent collection of coronavirus (COVID-19) events: shut downs, alarming news, hoarding, toilet paper shortages, contagion and empty shelves at grocery stores. When we add on the government telling us to keep social distance from anyone, stay home as much as possible and pay attention to your temperature, life can feel a bit apocalyptic. So maybe we want to hunker down in our home caves and do the Elijah technique, escaping the panic that pervades our society.
To be fair, Elijah’s life was being threatened by the Queen of Israel and she was definitely a formidable and scary person. So I recognize that I’m not comparing the same stimulating factors for the run and hide behaviors. Nevertheless, I’m sincerely convinced that we can apply some fantastic and profound takeaways from Elijah’s experience, in 1 Kings 19.
In this chapter, while Elijah hid in a cave, he observed lots of tumultuous events outside of his cave: a wind so strong that it broke apart rocks, an earthquake and a fire. In verses 11-12, it says that God wasn’t in the wind, God wasn’t in the earthquake and God wasn’t in the fire. But when Elijah heard a small whisper, a gentle blowing, he came to the entrance of the cave to listen to God, Whose first question was, “What are you doing here?”
Maybe God would ask us the same question in this season, when the world around us seems to be upended and foundations unraveled.
What are we doing?
I’m absolutely a proponent for prudent and wise choices in this turbulent season. However, I’m not a proponent of panic, fear, anxiety, worry nor apprehension. Maybe you don’t like the panic or anxiety response to this COVID-19 crisis either. So what can we do in this unusual time?
First, let’s recognize that we have a unique opportunity given to us that has never happened to this magnitude in human history. We get to choose our actions, what we focus on, our attitudes and perceptions. If we allow the media and gossip around us to be our focal point, then we could be letting our lives overflow with panic, fear, stress and worry.
Second, if we find ourselves “stuck at home” because of a quarantine or government edict to shelter-in-place, we will likely have some extra time on our hands. If you’re like me, in the not so distant past, I was bemoaning my lack of time and the hectic pace of my life. So now that we have more time, what will we do with it? Let’s be purposeful about this gift of extra time and use it constructively rather than letting the media amplify whatever fears or anxieties we might lean into by not regulating our focus. Here are a few suggestions:
- Do some Spring cleaning, house / apartment projects.
- Read a book that you’ve been wanting to read.
- Do some family games / interactions to take advantage of the extra time together.
- Go through your clothes and donate what you don’t wear / what doesn’t fit.
- Text your friends and elderly people you know to stay in touch.
- Be creative: write, paint, cook, organize, dance to some fun music.
Finally and most importantly, this crisis affords us an opportunity to snuggle into God, to deepen our intimacy, connection, awareness and strength. When Elijah heard a gentle whisper, not being distracted by the noisy earthquake, wind or fire (alarming news or corona crisis), he grew in his awareness and recognition of God’s presence, voice and the future that God had for him. Let’s allow this season to be a richly intimate time and deepen our connection with God!