Jonah ran from his call. He was instructed by God to go to Ninevah, to a people who needed him and the message he could bear, but Jonah also needed them to help break his arrogance. Jonah refused and thwarted God’s command. Jonah, in the fish’s belly, realized that he ran from God, and committed to turning back to Him. He prays to God.
It’s clear that God will respond to our own rebellion in ways similar to the way He responded to Jonah. God will:
- Put believers in distressful places so that we will acknowledge our running from Him and our need for Him. Otherwise, our sin and rebellion will cost us our fellowship with God – not our relationship with Him (we are still His!), but our communication, intimacy, and fellowship
- God will discipline us, to grab our attention and pull us back to Him. That often means isolation, like Jonah in the whale. God loves us too much to allow us to keep running from Him. This discipline is often painful – enough to not be ignored. And it wasn’t to hurt Jonah or to “get even” with him, but rather was for Jonah’s good, and for ours.
- God will do all this to change us and enable us to make the most of our second chance. Like Jonah, when we repent and turn back to God, God is there, ready to welcome us back into fellowship. (Psalm 40:1-3)
And then we’re able to tell our
story – how God wouldn’t let us go – as an encouragement to others.