Last weekend, my wife and I took our children to Carter Caves and toured Cascade Cave. The guided tour was 75-minutes long and included 225 stair steps. Our children loved it, and we did too. At least, the older two that stayed awake. Our youngest fell asleep towards the end and was carried through pretty much the entire trip.
When we came out of the cave, our signal returned to our phones and messages and voicemails came on them. We missed a lot of what was going on and valuable communications. The experience reminded me that we can enter into spiritual caves in our lives. The cave is not evil itself and is something that somehow provides protection and a place of solace. However, it is not a place we are meant to stay. Let’s look at a couple passages of Scripture to learn more.
1 Samuel 22
David therefore departed thence, and escaped to the cave Adullam: and when his brethren and all his father’s house heard it, they went down thither to him. 2And every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him; and he became a captain over them: and there were with him about four hundred men.
3And David went thence to Mizpeh of Moab: and he said unto the king of Moab, Let my father and my mother, I pray thee, come forth, and be with you, till I know what God will do for me. 4And he brought them before the king of Moab: and they dwelt with him all the while that David was in the hold. 5And the prophet Gad said unto David, Abide not in the hold; depart, and get thee into the land of Judah. Then David departed, and came into the forest of Hareth.
1 Kings 19
And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah? 10And he said, 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.
11And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. 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: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake: 12And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. 13And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah? 14And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: because 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.
15And the LORD said unto him, Go, return on thy way to the wilderness of Damascus: and when thou comest, anoint Hazael to be king over Syria: 16And Jehu the son of Nimshi shalt thou anoint to be king over Israel: and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abelmeholah shalt thou anoint to be prophet in thy room. 17And it shall come to pass, that him that escapeth the sword of Hazael shall Jehu slay: and him that escapeth from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha slay. 18Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.
The Rest of Us
John 16:33 reminds us, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” I am thankful that God has provided grace that is sufficient for all our needs. Thankfully we can experience His grace during our times of grieving and other overwhelming emotions. While our feelings can betray us, we must still understand that God has created us with these capabilities. Emotions are just some of the ways the Lord has given us the power to cope with all the ups and downs of life.
However, as far as the emotions associated with sadness and anger go, we must not stay there too long. In the passages above, we see that David and Elijah went to the caves in time of despair and depression. However, both were not there for very long. It allowed for a moment of profound soul-searching.
We can do this deep searching of the heart during this time because typically we find seclusion. For Elijah, it was a time where God could speak to Him in a mysterious, yet miraculous way. Saints of old have called these times the dark night of the soul. These are times when we feel withdrawn and numb in our emotions. Communication with God may be foggy at best. However, it is during these times that we can hold on to God’s Word alone by faith and in the end find out that He still reigns. This is the peace that Jesus talked about in John 16:33. We can have trouble and should expect it. However, we can overcome and have peace because of Jesus’ triumph over sin and death. That triumph extends to every arena of life.