Let God Be God
Loving God, I’m very grateful that I can come to You with confidence, secure in Your great grace toward me.
Read Jonah 1:1-17
 The word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai:  “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”  But Jonah ran away from the LORD and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the LORD.  Then the LORD sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up.  All the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god. And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship. But Jonah had gone below deck, where he lay down and fell into a deep sleep.  The captain went to him and said, “How can you sleep? Get up and call on your god! Maybe he will take notice of us so that we will not perish.”  Then the sailors said to each other, “Come, let us cast lots to find out who is responsible for this calamity.” They cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah.  So they asked him, “Tell us, who is responsible for making all this trouble for us? What kind of work do you do? Where do you come from? What is your country? From what people are you?”  He answered, “I am a Hebrew and I worship the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.”  This terrified them and they asked, “What have you done?” (They knew he was running away from the LORD, because he had already told them so.)  The sea was getting rougher and rougher. So they asked him, “What should we do to you to make the sea calm down for us?”  “Pick me up and throw me into the sea,” he replied, “and it will become calm. I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you.”  Instead, the men did their best to row back to land. But they could not, for the sea grew even wilder than before.  Then they cried out to the LORD, “Please, LORD, do not let us die for taking this man’s life. Do not hold us accountable for killing an innocent man, for you, LORD, have done as you pleased.”  Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm.  At this the men greatly feared the LORD, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows to him.  Now the LORD provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
ReflectHow did God show mercy to both the sailors and Jonah?
Jonah was convinced that the Ninevites deserved annihilation, but he knew God well enough to know that God might decide differently (4:2). So Jonah opted out (3). Jonah does not pray (6), and only acknowledges God under duress (9). His silence is a symptom of his problem with God. Whether we run away or drift away, the path away from God is marked by an absence of prayer and reluctance to witness. Jonah erroneously thought that his problem with God affected no one but him, yet his decision endangered the business (5) and the lives of the sailors (6-10). Thankfully, God brought good from a bad situation; the pagan sailors came to know God (14). It is remarkable that God did not meet Jonah’s disobedience with judgment. The sailors believed the storm was a punishment (4,11,13,15); however, the story is about pursuit, not punishment. Jonah’s decision took him on a downward course (3,5,15); yet, at every point, God was there pursuing him with mercy (4,17). God’s mercy may take the unexpected form of a fish or the strange form of that instrument of torture: the cross.
Pray for anyone, including yourself, who is running away from God that they will become aware of God’s loving pursuit.
Ask God to help you trust his ways and obey his calls, even if you don’t understand them or like them.