Wednesday, August 17, 2022

         Jonah may be the best known of the minor prophets.  His four chapters are presented as a short story and easily read that way—a leading character, plot, twist, turn and resolution.  His story can be read rather quickly.  We meet Jonah as a man who would rather do about anything than the one thing God had called him to do—preach to the city of Nineveh.  So rather than preach, he chose to run away.  Running turned into sailing and then sailing gave way to swimming when a violent storm arrived that landed Jonah in the water after having been thrown overboard by the crew (Jonah 1:12). 
            After spending three days and three nights in the belly of a big fish, Jonah offered a moving prayer, “From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God. He said: ‘In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me.  From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help, and you listened to my cry’” (Jonah 2:1-2).  Isn’t it good to know that we can pour our hearts out to the Lord—even in moments of deep despair and distress?  We can approach God without pretense and without masking our feelings and fears.  We can unburden ourselves before Him knowing that He hears us and welcomes us.  Jonah cried out to God at a time when there was little else to do and nowhere else to turn.  Desperation can often become a fitting altar where we do serious business with God through our prayers.    
            Jonah spoke these words near the end of his prayer, “I will say salvation comes from the Lord” (Jonah 2:9b).  And salvation does come from the Lord God.  The One who made us and gave His life for us is powerful and mighty to save.  Soon, Jonah would be delivered from the fish and head off to Nineveh.  This encounter with the Lord through prayer gave Jonah the courage and motivation that he needed to do what God had first called him to do—preach to a city that was lost and suffering mightily in their sins and waywardness.  Perhaps you have a sense that God is calling you to a season of change in your life—to take a step of faith and trust and do something that He has for you to do.  Maybe, like Jonah, you too have wandered and roamed away.  You have resisted and even disobeyed what He has called you to do.  Maybe the restlessness that you feel is an indication that a change is in order for you.   
            You might find comfort in the rest of Jonah’s story.  He did go to Nineveh and preach—and successfully so.  The city repented and turned to the Lord.  The response was so overwhelming that God relented and refrained from the judgment that He had intended for Nineveh (Jonah 3:10).  We might expect Jonah to be deliriously happy about this outcome.  But he was not happy—indeed his reaction was the opposite.  He was angry at the Lord’s compassion and started to sulk and pout.  It is very easy to miss what God is doing or what He has done.  We can easily get caught up in ourselves and not see the good that God may be doing all around us.  Today might be the occasion where you begin to see what God is doing in your life and in the lives of those around you.  Perhaps today you begin to celebrate God’s power and presence and compassion when you see it displayed and revealed.  Many times, we can be like Jonah—running, pouting, sulking and even blind to the good happening around us.  Perhaps we pray for God to grant us greater vision and greater faith—vision to see Him and faith to trust Him.  Have a great Wednesday!

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