Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up against me.” Jonah 1:1-2 ESV
A couple months ago I was sitting in church soaking up the final sermon in a series we were walking through. It was such a powerful service and to be honest, it was the first time I had felt genuine joy from God in a while. I suppose it was a combination of the songs, fellowship, and messages of the speakers that was so moving. I felt refreshed and renewed by God that day.
In the weeks leading up to that Sunday, I had been struggling with doubts and confusions about myself and just “life” in general. I had been praying and reading God’s word, which was a new hobby of mine at the time. I had neglected the Word of God for a while. But slowly, I started rereading some of my favorite childhood bible stories – ya know the ones you learned in “Sunday School” as a preteen. The week before the sermon, I read the book of Jonah. Visually, I could picture that Veggie Tales scene from my 5-year-old days where Jonah (the asparagus) hopped on the boat that fled to Tarshish, then the asparagus got thrown off the boat, then swallowed up by a whale. Everyone remembers that part. Upon re-reading that story, I realized that I had neglected a part of it. It was the part that came after the whole “Jonah’s reluctant obedience to God” part. The part after Jonah had to learn his tough lesson through being regurgitated via large fish. This story made me realize how abundantly the Lord displays his mercy.
Through Jonah, He gave the people of Nineveh a chance to change. Jonah 3:10 says “When God saw what [the people of Nineveh] did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that He had said he would do to them, and He did not do it.” The people of Nineveh were absolutely vile people. But because of their obedience to the Lord’s command that Jonah proclaimed, God spared them. However, later on in the book, we get a glimpse into Jonah’s true intentions. In Jonah 4:2, Jonah calls out to God, “…That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster.” Jonah was bitter that the Lord spared his own people. Jonah was bitter that nothing bad happened to the people of Nineveh like what happened to him. Even still, God spared Jonah.
God has a plan for your life, and he can give and take whatever he chooses, whenever he chooses. In chapter 4, Go created a plant to shade Jonah from the scorching heat. In verse 10, when Jonah was pouting because his plant died, God said to him, “You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and it died overnight.” God showed Jonah that He is the one who blessed him with the plant and that it wasn’t because of anything Jonah did. God is our ultimate provider. He is able to bless us abundantly.
One thing the Lord has been speaking to me recently is that He will be our provider if we cling to Him. Matthew 6:33 says that if we seek first HIS kingdom and HIS righteousness, all these things will be added to you. Do not worry about tomorrow, for it has its own troubles. Cling to the promises and the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ.
There is no place too far or too dark that our Lord cannot pull you out of and look mercifully upon you. Meditate on the words of Lamentations 3:22-23 “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness.”
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for revealing yourself to us through the precious gift of the Holy Bible. Help us to draw near to you and to know we are loved and that your mercies never cease. Thank you for the gift of knowing you and walking in you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.