Discover His heart: He shows mercy to us through the hard things of life
My friend had a dog that loved to play hide and seek. When he was told to go hide, he ran to the nearest rug or blanket and stuck his head under it. I guess his logic was if he couldn’t see us, we couldn’t see him. Jonah reminds me of that dog. Did he really think that hiding out in the bottom of a boat at sea would prevent God from seeing him? Surely Jonah was smarter than that! As the saying goes, “You can run, but you cannot hide.”
Sometimes God asks us to do the hard thing, and for Jonah, preaching a message of redemption to the evil Assyrians was a hard thing because he really didn’t care about their souls. However, God did care for them, and the Book of Jonah is full of God’s mercy. God was merciful to the Assyrians despite their evil deeds and sent Jonah to minister to them, and God was merciful to Jonah in his utter disobedience. God could have allowed the sea to become his grave; but instead, He provided a lesson, a discipline to help turn Jonah’s heart.
After three days of inhaling fish innards, Jonah evidently decided a trip to Nineveh sounded pretty good. “I will offer sacrifices to you with songs of praise, and I will fulfill all my vows. For my salvation comes from the Lord alone.” (2:9) God has a way of getting our attention and letting us know that He sees us with our head under the carpet. In His mercy, He accepted Jonah’s repentance, “Then the Lord ordered the fish to spit Jonah out onto the beach.” Although he must have smelled like the inside of a sardine can, Jonah was alive, submitted and on his way to Nineveh.
God could have sent another prophet to Nineveh, but then Jonah would not have experienced first-hand God’s incredible mercy. He had additional lessons to learn about pride, selfishness and most importantly about God’s love for all people. When God asks us to do the hard thing, the thing that rubs us the wrong way or the thing that we dread, we can learn from the Jonah experience.
We can’t outrun Him or outwit Him as Jonah proved to us. In our submission to Him, we will move past the prejudice or hatred or whatever it is that is making it a hard thing to do. In this perfecting of us, God will also touch the lives of others through it.
Moving Forward: I can accept whatever difficult task He has for me today with the knowledge that He perfecting me as well as touching others through it.
Tomorrow @ Acts 3-4