What Are You Doing Here? –  Encouragement for Today – January 18, 2024

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Brenda BradfordJanuary 18, 2024

What Are You Doing Here?

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"There he came to a cave, where he spent the night. But the LORD said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?'" 1 Kings 19:9 (NLT)

Like toddlers in a toy store, new years come bounding in, bursting with possibility for all that lies ahead.

Some years, I've shown up at January's door eager to plan the year ahead. Yet when prayerfully assessing my path, I've realized that somewhere along life's way, I stepped off God's path for me and began running in my own direction.

Looking back, those were some of the times in my life when I was in dim places of discouragement, longing to hear God's voice.

The prophet Elijah knew this dilemma well. Elijah was speaking messages the Lord gave him and performing powerful miracles. But then he followed his fears and ran off in his own direction, winding up in a cave, longing to hear God's voice afresh (1 Kings 17-19).

I love the gentle authority of God's response to Elijah's change of course: "There he came to a cave, where he spent the night. But the LORD said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?'" (1 Kings 19:9).

Elijah explained that his life was in danger, and he felt he was the only remaining follower of God. "‘Go out and stand before me on the mountain,' the LORD told him. And as Elijah stood there, the LORD passed by ..." (1 Kings 19:11, NLT). Elijah witnessed a windstorm, an earthquake and a fire, but God was not in any of them. And after the fire, there was a gentle whisper.

"Go back the same way you came, and travel to the wilderness of Damascus. When you arrive there, anoint Hazael to be king of Aram" (1 Kings 19:15, NLT).

Elijah listened as the Lord's gentle whisper reassured him and gave him new hope and a fresh assignment, placing him back on the path set apart for him.

Like Elijah, we can sometimes find ourselves running in our own directions, apart from God's path, and wind up in dim places of discouragement, longing to hear God's voice afresh. As we step onto the welcome mat of a new year, may we prayerfully assess our paths, asking God to reveal any areas where we may be running in our own direction.

Oh, to listen for the tender voice of God saying: What are you doing here?

If you sense the Lord's whisper in your spirit saying you've stepped off course, dear friend, take heart - just as God gently redirected Elijah, may you go back the way you came, back to where you last heard God speak in your life. Listen for His reassuring voice in the quiet of your time with Him; ask Him for wisdom and direction for your every step.

The trustworthy Guide of your life is forever faithful to lead you well along His path, perfectly planned for you.

Dear Lord, thank You for being my faithful Guide. Please help me listen for Your whisper above all else. In Jesus' Name, Amen. 


We all have a lot of questions ... But where can we go for answers? That's why we're hosting a series of new podcast episodes called "Ask a Theologian" on The Proverbs 31 Ministries Podcast. In every conversation, you'll hear from Dr. Joel Muddamalle and Shae Hill as they tackle your most asked questions with theological insight and practical takeaways. Listen to the most recent episode here.


For more encouragement, connect with Brenda Bradford Ottinger on her website or Instagram.


Psalm 32:8, "The LORD says, ‘I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you'" (NLT).

In what areas of your life might God be asking, What are you doing here? We'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

© 2024 by Brenda Bradford Ottinger. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries
P.O. Box 3189
Matthews, NC 28106