The ‘Jonah’ Experience

HopkinsYou are in this traffic that seems not to move even an inch. You stay there until you are tired and decided to opt out of the bus and start walking. Barely two steps away and the road opens up as though there was no traffic before. This is like an hour since you waited. I have always made fun of this and say was I the Jonah in that traffic mess?

The story of Jonah and the Whale is one of the strangest accounts in the Bible; it begins with God speaking to Jonah, son of Amittai, commanding him to go to the great city of Nineveh and Preach repentance. Jonah found this order unbearable. He went down to the seaport of Joppa and paid for a ship to Tarshish, heading directly away from Nineveh.

The Bible tells us Jonah “ran away from the Lord.” God sent a violent storm, which threatened to break the ship to pieces. The frightened sailors cast lots; and the lot fell on Jonah, meaning he was responsible for the storm. Jonah said “pick me up and throw me into the sea”. First they tried rowing to shore, but the waves got even higher. Afraid of God, the sailors finally tossed Jonah into the sea, and the water immediately grew calm.

Instead of drowning, Jonah was swallowed by a great fish, which God provided. In the belly of the whale, Jonah repented and cried out to God in prayer. He praised God, ending with the prophetic statement, “Salvation comes from the Lord.” (Jonah 2:9, NIV)

Jonah was in the great fish three days and three nights. God commanded the fish, and it vomited the reluctant prophet onto dry land. This time Jonah obeyed God. He walked through Nineveh proclaiming that in forty days the city would be destroyed. Surprisingly, the people of Nineveh believed Jonah’s message and repented, wearing sackcloth and covering themselves in ashes. God had compassion on them and did not destroy them.

The lessons I have learnt in this story is that God is in control. God commands everything in his Creation, from the weather to a fish, to carry out his plan.

You may be in a situation like Jonah’s. He found it very difficult to take the message of repentance to the Assyrians who were going to destroy his own people. His emotions clouded his judgement and he made a decision to ‘run away from God’ Jonah did not trust in God enough, to deal with the hearts of the Assyrians and change them. He could not see past his fears. However, love draws out fear, another important lesson to learn.

sailorGod knows our hearts, and even when everyone else is busy judging and condemning our mistake, God’s plan for our life does not change. He is a perfect God who uses imperfect vessels. He did not appoint someone else to go to Nineveh when Jonah refused. God simply prodded Noah and He saved his life, so that he can complete his mission. God does not write us off at the slightest mistake. He is full of compassion, and He would want us to accomplish our purpose. Whenever we hit a snag in life, we should not think of giving up or running away. We should stick to our course and wade through the turbulence, because what comes afterwards is normalcy and tranquility. Storms act as an eye opener to what the real purpose is. When we weather the storm, this is when we are truly able to focus on the assignment.




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