Disobeying God, resisting His commands and trying to run away from Him has always resulted in problems. Jonah discovered this when God told him to go and preach against the wickedness in Nineveh. Instead of doing what God said he turned and ran in the opposite direction. He boarded a ship bound for Tarshish, thinking he could escape from God’s presence, and instead found himself in a desperate predicament, as God sent a violent storm which threatened to sink the ship and drown all on board.
The sailors recognised that the storm had a supernatural origin and they started to cry out to their gods, casting lots to find out who was responsible for upsetting the deity which had caused the storm. On discovering that Jonah worshipped the God who made the sea and the land and that he was running away from Him, they were terrified. They were loath to do as Jonah suggested and to throw him into the sea, but eventually as the sea became rougher and rougher they decided they had no option. Jonah was thrown overboard and immediately the sea became calm. The next part of the story is well known by many of us from childhood. God sent a great fish to swallow Jonah and rescue him from drowning.
Jonah then had three days and nights inside the fish’s stomach to contemplate his predicament! His prayer is remarkable, showing his recognition of why he was in that situation and his trust in God to save him. We can also see that he made vows to the Lord which he was determined to fulfil. In response to this prayer God commanded the fish to vomit Jonah out on to dry land.
This isn’t just a story for Sunday School children. It’s one that we can all learn from. In particular we need to know that when we face storms in our lives they aren’t always the enemy’s work! They can be caused by our own disobedience and resistance to God’s commands. They can also come when we hang on to worthless idols and forfeit the grace that could be ours (Jonah 2:8).
Are there any storms in your life today? Is there anything that God has asked you to do which you have not yet done? Is there any area of your life where you are resisting God in any way and clinging to worthless idols (e.g. in eating, drinking, finance, giving, or relationships)? If so, why not confess and turn back to Him?
Prayer: Lord, I am sorry for my disobedience in not doing what You have asked me to do. I repent of this and commit now to doing that thing which You have commanded. I also confess my resistance to You and the way I have made idols of worthless things in my life. I lay these down now. In Jesus’ name, Amen.