Ever since the recent fires began near my home in Sonoma County in California, I’ve been pondering a favorite Bible passage describing the experience of the prophet Elijah:
“And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind,” says First Kings (19:11, 12, King James Version), “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 still small voice.”
The moral of the story seems clear to me: God isn’t responsible for whatever natural disasters might cross our path, a notion made all the more evident when Christ Jesus stilled a “great” storm through his confidence in and understanding of God’s grace (see Matthew 8:23-26). But even if a wildfire or other disaster hasn’t been averted, this “still small voice” can help us face the storm of grief and reassure those dealing with loss or despair.
Over the years I’ve come to associate this “voice” with the reminders of God’s unyielding love that I’ve had in some apparently overwhelming situations. I remember hearing this inspiration in 1993 when I was guided safely both into and then out of an evacuation area where I was living at the time, and again in 2007 when a 200,000-acre wildfire burned to within a few yards of my cousin’s back fence. I also heard it as I became aware of what was happening more recently with the dozen or so fires raging in Sonoma, Napa, and other surrounding counties. And given that God doesn’t play favorites – “God shows no partiality,” as it says in the Bible (Acts 10:34, English Standard Version) – I feel certain that these reminders are available to anyone, under any circumstance, and that they lead to healing.
In that light, I feel our prayers can contribute to the comfort of those facing hardship. Referring to the uplifted state of mind that reveals the presence and power of divine laws of good, Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy writes, “The ‘still, small voice’ of scientific thought reaches over continent and ocean to the globe’s remotest bound” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 559). The passage continues, “The inaudible voice of Truth is, to the human mind, ‘as when a lion roareth.’ It is heard in the desert and in dark places of fear.”
Hearing this “voice” can make a difference in terms of our ability to overcome adversity and to see concrete evidence of our Father-Mother God’s enduring care for His, Her, creation.
This isn’t easy when confronting the loss of one’s home or a loved one, but it helps us begin to understand and accept the spiritual goodness that endures in our lives – the beauty of divine Soul that remains to inspire us, the Christly courage that remains to strengthen us, the divine Love that remains to heal us.
Even those who don’t think of themselves as “praying persons” can be receptive to this “voice” and uplifted by its restorative effects. It only requires an openness to see things from a more divinely inspired perspective – a change of thought that serves to support, sustain, and empower both individuals and the communities in which we live.