He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind was 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 sound of sheer silence. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. ~ 1 Kings 19:11-13a; NRSV
A picture is worth a thousand words. Which could be why I’ve been so drawn to the images which portray the impact of Hurricane Harvey in Houston and surrounding areas. The statistics may be staggering of homes and property ruined, and of people misplaced and deceased. The pictures, however, express infinitely more than a statistic ever could:
several men help an elderly woman from her home, as they wade in waist-deep water;
a cavernous room holds a multitude of cots where exhausted people try to rest;
a man sits in a kayak, floating in the middle of a living room filled with water;
two women stand face to face, one cupping the other’s tear-stained cheeks in her hands.
As I’ve gazed at these images and others, my mind has flirted with the encounter in 1 Kings between Elijah and God at the entrance to the cave. This story takes place during a distinct moment of despair, as Elijah is fleeing for his life. Just as he needs the refuge of the cave to provide solace and rest, he also needs an infusion of courage to forge his way through adversity. Sometimes, the pathway to tomorrow is nothing more, and nothing less, than the still, small voice of God echoing within us ever so subtly, whispering to us of who we are and to whom we belong, and pushing us to keep going, to persevere.
It might not seem as though God’s still, small voice is enough to get anyone through. And, yet we shouldn’t underestimate its sheer intensity. In the days, weeks, and months to come, we’ll learn to cling to new images which will portray receding water and the rebuilding of communities, outstretched hands, and the solidarity of a nation as we restore what’s been broken. In all of these pictures, God’s hopeful voice will speak volumes.
We pray our sisters and brothers who are impacted by Hurricane Harvey are visited by the gentle whisper of God’s voice, that this whisper takes the form of compassionate souls who help, empower, and guide, that amidst the clamor of chaos and loss is the still presence of One who will show the way forward.
 These images are part of a slideshow found at abcnews.go.com