JONAH 1:17: “And the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.” (ESV)
OBSERVATION: Has God given up on me? This is a question many people ask themselves. I have asked this question too during times when it seemed like everything was going wrong in my life. I wonder if Jonah was asking himself this question as the mariners threw him to the sea. As he hurled toward the water do you think Jonah wondered – “Has God given up on me?”
God had called Jonah to be His messenger to the people of Nineveh who were living in great wickedness. Nineveh was the capital of the nation of Assyria. This is the nation that was threatening Israel and the Northern Kingdom. This was a nation of Gentiles – not Jews! Jonah did not want anything good to come to the enemies of Israel. So, instead of obeying God – Jonah ran. He hopped on a cargo ship and headed out to sea. However, he was not prepared for the storm that lie ahead.
Every storm we face in life is not always because of our bad choices, but many are. As I look over my life I can see that many of the times I thought God had given up on me – I was simply adrift by the choices I had made. My choices had moved me away from the presence of God. And the important thing I have learned is, although I was adrift, God never moved! Like the father of the prodigal son, the Father was always waiting for me, always desiring me to turn once again and return to Him.
I have also found out something quite humbling and hard for me to comprehend. In the midst of my bad choices, the Lord was preparing my rescue. He was allowing me to exercise my free will, but He was also preparing events of grace and mercy in my life to rescue me – even when I did not deserve them. Jonah did not deserve being rescued. Yet, the Lord prepared a great fish to rescue Jonah in the midst of the sea – because God was not done with Jonah, He had not given up on Jonah!
The wonderful truth about God’s love is that He never gives up on His children. He never forces us to obey, but He always brings us to the choice and opportunity to repent and make the right choice. When we do, when we truly confess our sins to Him, through Jesus Christ our Lord, He is faithful to forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. We now have a new choice to make. Will we embrace the grace and mercy that has been extended to us, or will we turn right around and make the same bad choice again?
As I write these thoughts I am quickened with the thought that some who may read this are bound in a cycle of hurt, bitterness, and un-forgiveness. You may have been legitimately hurt in the past, but you now stand at the threshold of God’s grace and mercy. He has prepared a “fish” to rescue you – a chance to break the cycle and walk into His love and freedom. If you repent and receive His forgiveness, but return right back to rehearsing those old hurts over and over again, you will simply be boarding the next ship that is destined for shipwreck. God has not given up on you – and you can be free! Receive the grace and mercy He has for you today and walk into His pathway of forgiveness and freedom for your life!
Lord, thank You for never giving up on me! Thank you for rescuing me time and time again, and for your grace and mercy that continues to teach me, guide me, and set me free. Help me to walk in Your freedom and Your love – making the choices today that will bring me to Your life – through Jesus Christ my Lord!
In Jesus Name!