(By Angela Watson)
Have you ever felt that God wanted you to do something, but it was something you didn’t particularly want to do? The prophet Jonah found himself in this very predicament.
To describe Jonah as a reluctant prophet is generous. God gave him a message to deliver to the people of Nineveh and instead of obeying, Jonah ran. He hid in the inner part of the ship and volunteered to be thrown into the sea and perish rather than deliver God’s message to Nineveh.
Jonah was the son of Amittai, which means “son of my faithfulness.” In the pages of this short book, we see how despite his choices, Jonah experienced God’s faithful love again and again.
God didn’t let him run.
Although Jonah set out on the ship to Tarshish, as far in the opposite direction of Nineveh as possible, God hurled a great wind on the sea, and the storm was so great that the ship was about to break apart.
God didn’t let him hide.
While the sailors threw the ship’s cargo into the sea to lighten the load, the captain found Jonah asleep in the inner part of the ship. And as they cast lots, they exposed Jonah as the reason for the storm.
God didn’t let him perish.
The only way to stop the storm was for Jonah to be hurled into the sea. Despite the sailors' reluctance and best efforts to find an alternative, they had no choice but to cast Jonah into the sea. God provided a great fish to swallow him, and in the whale's belly, Jonah sent up a prayer of thanksgiving to God.
“But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay. Salvation belongs to the Lord!” (Jonah 2:9).
God gave Jonah a second chance to deliver His message to the people of Nineveh, and this time, Jonah arose and obeyed.
That same root word for hurled “tul” is also found in Psalm 37:23:
“The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand.”
We are children of God’s faithfulness. Even when we deliberately turn from His way, we may suffer because of our choices, but God is holding our hand and we can recover.