When There Is Nothing There

I have a Christian girlfriend who is caught between faith and a hard place. Though she is a committed Christ-​follower, she struggles to believe God’s promises and feels helpless to the circumstances of her trial. She prays — but wonders if God no longer listens to her. She looks for the light at the end of the trial-​tunnel, yet sees none.

Have you been there? Are you there now? God’s ways and timing are mysterious — no doubt. At times, His ways can even seem frustrating. But He is good. He provides strength and hope when we call on Him . . . but waiting on God can be such a difficult spiritual discipline.

Time and time again in Scripture we are shown beautiful pictures of God’s faithfulness to those who wait on and call upon Him.

Snapshots of God’s faithfulness displayed in the life of Elijah are simply fascinating. Elijah was the most dramatic and famous of Israel’s prophets. God worked in and through him powerfully and miraculously, but even Elijah went through seasons of waiting and wondering — just like my friend. Just like each of us.

For years, Ahab (king of Israel) and his wife, Jezebel, did evil in the eyes of the Lord. They worshiped Baal — an idol — instead of the one true God, which provoked the Lord to anger. Then God called Elijah to the scene. Elijah told Ahab, “As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word” (1 Kings 17:1). As you can imagine, Ahab wasn’t too happy about that ‘word’ and, in his fury, he wanted Elijah dead. God had other plans, though. He directed and protected Elijah and provided for all his needs through the time of the drought.

In the third year, the Lord sent Elijah back to king Ahab, and a showdown of showdowns went down on Mount Carmel — a celestial boxing match with Baal and his false prophets in one corner and God and Elijah in the other. The prophets of Baal took the first swing. They made a sacrifice to their god and cried out to him for hours to consume their offering with fire. Baal was silent and unresponsive because he was not real. Duh.

Elijah knew he served a powerful, living, and responsive God, so he advanced to the center of the ring and took his swings with confidence.

He repaired the altar of God, prepared the sacrifice, and then prayed for God to reveal His deity by consuming the offering. God flexed His divine muscles and answered Elijah’s prayers instantly with an all-​consuming fire. Knockout!

After the showdown was over, God told Elijah to deliver a new message to King Ahab. “And Elijah said to Ahab, “Go, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a heavy rain” (1 Kings 18:41). So Ahab went to eat, and Elijah went up to the top of Mount Carmel to look for evidence of God’s rain-​miracle.

“Go and look toward the sea,” he told his servant. And he went up and looked.

“There is nothing there,” he said.

Seven times Elijah said, “Go back.”

The seventh time the servant reported, “A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea” (1 Kings 18:43 – 44).

What struck me as I studied this passage is the fact that Elijah didn’t get his miracle right away this time. Could God have opened up the sky and poured out a storm immediately? You bet. Did He? No. Elijah had to wait. His servant had to look for the miracle . . . and look . . . and look . . . and look. Seven times.

Hallelujah! You and I aren’t the only ones who have to wait, friend! God’s will is God’s will. It bends for no man. Yet ours can bend to His and, as a result, we will find strength and peace — even in the waiting.

“Meanwhile, the sky grew black with clouds, the wind rose, a heavy rain came on . . .” (1 Kings 18:45a).

God moved. Once again, He was faithful. He can be no other way.

Now think about this. God used Elijah in really big ways. Elijah spoke on God’s behalf. He was God’s front-​line man in raising a dead child back to life in order to bless a widowed mother, and he was the lead character in a miraculous God-​show that brought fire from heaven, consuming an offering and connecting the hearts of wandering people back to the heart of God. We’re talking big God-​stuff! Yet even Elijah experienced difficult situations and was forced to wait on God.

When discouragement sets in and you feel unheard — when you are forced to wait on God — when you find yourself caught between faith and a hard place — when there is nothing there, no evidence of God’s miracle on the horizon — remember that God is faithful, powerful, and responsive. He has seen you through trials in the past, and He will see you through trials in the future. Even in the challenges you face now, you are seen, you are heard, and He is able. “Look to the Lord and his strength; seek His face always” (Psalm 105:4).

Are you in a period of waiting? What has God brought you through? Please leave a comment below. Let’s take the conversation deeper.

About Gwen Smith

Gwen Smith is a speaker, author, songwriter, and worship leader who inspires women toward the heart of God through stories, songs, and Scripture. Her fun, enthusiastic, and relatable communication style puts audiences at ease and bridges generational, denominational, and racial divides. […]

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  1. AMEN AMEN Just Awesome God Is Amazing 🙂

  2. Angela Sidrak says:

    What a powerful devotion! I really needed to hear these words of encouragement. He is able indeed and His timing is the right timing!

  3. Debbie Genua says:

    Waiting for God!

  4. Thank you for this reminder that God can see around corners we can't! I am at a
    cross roads myself and waiting and trusting in his goodness.

  5. I'm waiting but this has helped to encourage and strenthen me as I stand believing God is who He says He is and can (& will) do what He says He can do.

  6. Barbara Enfinger Lutz says:

    I feel as though you are writing about me! Thank you for your words to strenghen me while I wait. We've been waiting 4 1/​2 years for our miracle and it gets a little rough sometimes to stay so strong. I am sometimes not so sure how the prophets of old did it, but can only lean on Him and continue to believe. Thanks again!

  7. Waiting on God. Needed this encouragement. Blessings Gwen!

  8. When to know when is the right to tell someone something, I just keep praying.

  9. Lisa Bridges says:

    Thank you for this reminder! The one year anniversary of my 2 daughters passing in a car accident (10 – 15-​11) is coming up and I have been depressed, angry, hurt, hiding, emotionally drained and finding no reason for joy. Every morning I wake up wondering why I am still here. I see no purpose here and cannot wait to see my girls again. Yet every morning I DO wake up and go about my day and the next day comes. I do not know why I am still here but I do have faith that there is a reason and that God is holding me each day and for that I am thankful…

    • I am so proud of you for getting up every day and going on! My heart hurts for you daily. We need to be thinking about how you want to spend Oct 15…do you want us to surround you? Do you want a girls day out? Do you want to be alone in your room with us girls in the living room if you need us? Do you want to go to the lake? Or just be alone? You don't have to decide now, but I promise, we will be there for you, whatever that looks like. We love you!!!

    • You are here sweet baby, cause you have another precious gift Sammy to help you .……and all your family and friends…I remember all to well .….the why am I still here.….I remember telling George I wanted to go with him.…..love you sweet peaches.….you have been on my heart.……and continue to be.….aj

    • Jenna Almaguer says:

      This was written for you- sort of like God speaking to you through this article! There's your sign! Just like we talked the other day, He will answer us is all sorts of ways. I love you and am praying for you, sis.

    • Tammy Hartley says:

      Lisa, this is tough! Words cant take your pain away but God can carry you. Prayers continue for you.

    • Prayed for you I saw you comment under the devotion I hurt so bad to lose someone you love I lost my mom she was young only 52, hurts my prayers are with may Jesus comfort you…

    • Your comment touched me- I am so sorry … words really can't express. Lifting you in prayer.

    • Laura Ortega says:

      Friend I know your heart was broken in many pieces, but God has you here for a Reason & that reason is Alex, Sammy & your grandbaby.…. We dont know why things happen the way they do but you are a AMAZING Mother & friend! We can't take your pain away , but always know you Always have a friend! <3

    • Alissa Allred Thompson says:

      Sending you my love, Lisa. <3

    • Lisa I admire you so much …, YOU ARE TRULYBEAUTIFUL PERSON your babies are So lucky to have you as their MOMMA.…..I KNOWVERY SPECIAL LADY LOOKING, AFTER YOUR GIRLS ,ALONG W/​OUR LORD .…LOVE YA

    • Lisa, your work is not done here. Through your example i strive to be a better parent. I am trying to get closer to God. You inspire me as im sure many others. Continue to be our inspiration and motivation. Do your best to be strong and i will be praying for you on this end.

    • You have so much hurt and pain and the wounds are still so fresh. You are right…God is holding you, in his loving arms, and He has a plan for your life. Father I life up Lisa to you right now for strength and your loving arms to surround her and help her deal with her tragic loss. Pls Father we know you are a loving and comforting father and she needs you! In Jesus' name, amen!

    • Penny Goleman Searle says:

      Thank you for sharing Lisa, your story touched my heart! I lost a granddaughter, she was just 2 1/​2 and currently I have a 28 year old son who has been missing now for 3 months. However, last week the LORD gave me an answer, confirmed 5 times. I now rest in His peace, I do trust Him. I was so blind with pain, as I know you have been and I STAND with you and encourage you that in God's incredible timing He will take all those tears of sorrow and give them back as tears of JOY! The things of this earth will grow strangely dim in the LIGHT of His Glory and Grace. Shalom

    • Pam Henderson Preciado says:

      Lisa, I dont know if you remember me.. I grew up next door to your mom and was friends of the family.. My children are Melissa..Frank .. and Melanie Carrillo.. my mom still lives on C Street… My heart goes out to you and I think of you often.. God has a plan and it is hard to understand… I still think of your beautiful daughters.… My prayers go out to you daily… Prayers go out to you and your family and one day we will all have the answer.… My brother passed away in an accident when he was in his 30's it still haunts me.. I am here if you ever need someone to talk to… Love you and remember you when you were so young down on C street .…. God Bless you .. <3

    • Pam Henderson Preciado says:

      Lisa, I dont know if you remember me.. I grew up next door to your mom and was friends of the family.. My children are Melissa..Frank .. and Melanie Carrillo.. my mom still lives on C Street… My heart goes out to you and I think of you often.. God has a plan and it is hard to understand… I still think of your beautiful daughters.… My prayers go out to you daily… Prayers go out to you and your family and one day we will all have the answer.… My brother passed away in an accident when he was in his 30's it still haunts me.. I am here if you ever need someone to talk to… Love you and remember you when you were so young down on C street .…. God Bless you .. <3

    • It hurts so much and very little else seems to matter. I get it. Just keep saying "Jesus help me, I know You see my pain and I am aware of You with me. To her friends and family, hang in there with her and know that the anticipation of the first anniversary feels worse than the actual day. Try to find someone you trust to do some grief counselling with you in the next six months. I care very much about your future Lisa. FB me if you need to.

  10. Awesome and encouraging!

  11. Trying to be faithful during a very difficult time for our family we have had a series of health trials , financial, and job stress… It just seems like everything at once and we are not getting a break… I have been asking God to please help and deliver, but here we are… Waiting so a very timely devotion thank you!

  12. Amber Schmidt says:

    I also needed to hear this today. I've been struggling through periods of doubt lately and I want to be free of that. It just seems that my life is full of struggles and my prayers seem to go unheard and I get frustrated. Sometimes I really dislike living in a society that has us all looking for the quick fix. You get so trained for it and expect it! I know I need to wait on God…He will be and is there for me.

  13. Barbara Duncan Wood Junger says:

    You know it!!! satan is a liar…the father of all liars.…Jesus is Truth and LIght. Keep walking in the Light. satan can't touch you there!!

  14. My recent favorite verse is Exodus 14:14. The Lord will fight for you; you need only be still. Dr. Tony Evans said in a sermon about Esther that God is always in the background.

  15. I am waiting to see the relocation process for my family to come to the end. It has been a roller coaster of emotion for both my husband and I. We each are being broken and stretched and growing. It is wonderful, painful, exhausting, exciting, and scary but it keeps us going to him on our knees. This our period of waiting.

  16. I am in the worst storm of my life with my family. I pray daily for peace and compassion. My siblings took my mom out of her home of 32 years, sold it for half of its worth, sold her possessions (and some of mine), took her car, and then stuck her in a nursing home. They have now forgotten her. I just found her in this nursing home two months ago. She is lonely and unhappy. She does not understand why she trusted her children so much only to be put away. Dysfunctional family? Yes! Prayers for guidance on how to get through some legal issues and peace are prayed everyday. I asked for a sign regarding some legal issues (a leaf to turn red on a tree in the front yard). It was two days later and a grouping of leaves turned red but on a different tree. I want to be obedient and walk a close walk with God and His words for me. I love my God and know He is my mentor, healer, and He loves me. I try to be patient but.….…… my finances are nearly gone. I feel like this message was a message to me from God to be patient and that He knows my needs and will supply them. I just need to be patient.

  17. Thank you.

  18. I am waiting on a blessing in my current financial situation. I know God is for real but like you said at times its hard waiting. Rite now I confess i will wait on the Lord and be of good courage.

  19. I so appreciate this reminder of waiting on God even in the dark places of life. I have been a Christian for over 30 years with many trials, difficulties and struggles.The last 3 years have been the worst. Like Elijah and Paul, there have been times, I have despaired of life and asked God, " why am I still here?" The biblical answer to that is we live to glorify God through the joys and the sufferings of our lives. However, in the everyday life of living in those dark days, your faith, trust, hope in God can almost disappear. Trials can shake everything you thought you knew about God, his word, the people you love, etc. Yet, if you will let God lead you to places where he can be with you in the pain, in the dark, in the brokenness, etc, little by little the light does come. The light is Christ. When you have nothing to give, or think there is nothing left, He holds you and shows you, that you are to live for him. He alone is your rock, your place of feeding, nurturing, comfort. It may not be the way you think trials and comfort should come, but God has promised to never leave you nor forsake you. When you have nothing left, you are on you face and as you surrender to him, his sovereignty in your life, his outstanding love for you, He will life you up. He does heal the broken hearted. Whether it is by leaps and bounds or small steps of wholeness and reassurance, he will become more than enough for you. It is still a work in process for me. I am so grateful for his grace and encouragement to my heart.

    • So beautiful Evette, I want to see you. We have had some busy week ends that were not expected but I have not forgotten. I promise. Will talk to you very soon. love you

  20. Mary Simpson says:

    Oh what a blessing this blog has been to me today. It is a great reminder for me. I was starting to get a little discouraged with "waiting" but after reading this blog, it all came back to me. I trust that God will provide for me. I trust that He will lead me to where I should be. At times it is so very hard to wait, but just when I was about to get discouraged I came across this blog. Beautifully written and such a blessing. Praise the Lord!

  21. Mary Hersel says:

    I can barely type for crying. I have been in a wandering , dustbowl of desert for about three years now and cant pray my way out ( not for lack of trying. My mom died about five years ago and I felt stranded in life without my root. But I had God and I knew he would see me thru. My husband died unexpectedly three years ago and I thought "ok this is hard but my God is big, I will be ok. I lost my house thru foreclosure a year later and I knew life was going to keep changing but I knew God was with me and all would turn out ok. I moved to a new life living with my oldest daughter away from grandkids and life I knew best, and it got really tough, couldn't find a job for over six months, lived out of my car for a big part of that time, and kept on praying. Felt very weak of faith sometimes but always came back to the knowledge that God was with me and it would turn out ok. Praying for a son in and out of prison that wouldn't bend his knee to God, facing questions from friends and relatives about why wasn't my life getting better, depression seeped in and I just kept talking to God and trying to believe it would get better. I prayed for a break in trials and God answered my prayer. He gave me a new life and a job that I love and put me on my feet, but the money was not good for the debt I had accumulated and I tried fixing things myself and made it much worse. Back to God. I tried to sift thru the garbage in my life and sort thru my pain and deal with my tragedies but it was all taking its toll. I knew there were days I couldn't talk to God except to cry out PLEASE HELP ME, but I didn't find Him answering, and and I was beginning to seek ways to avoid worrying about it, but all I could do was cry. I started going to a new church and a woman walked up to me one sunday and said You need someone to talk to You look so sad. I knew I was wearing my life on my sleeve but couldn't find another place to put it anymore. It got better for a while, just getting things out helped, and I knew I had people praying for me, and that helped, but inside all this had taken its toll, and I felt number and number. Somedays I could find the SUN, but most days were looking pretty bleak. My prayers were getting fewer but I was still trying to keep believing, but I was feeling weaker by the moment. I feel angry at God in ways that I didn't think would ever happen to me, and I feel hopeless. I have nothing to hold on to and don't know what God is thinking but I think He might have left the building. My sin is great and I keep asking Him to forgive me and help me up but my faith is feeling crushed with hopelessness. They were going to send me a check from the foreclosure stuff but it got lost in the mail and still things are piling on top of the pile. So your topic today hit home like I cant even say and I know God's promises are true and faithful, but this is what I am living thru today.

  22. This was very encouraging and uplifting to me! I definitely feel "between faith and a hard place!" This was just the reminder of God's faithfulness I needed. Thank you.

  23. This is just what I needed to hear. I've been waiting and praying for my son to get a job. It's been a while now. I just know the right job for him is coming. The Lord always comes through. God Bless. Teri B

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