From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God. He said: “In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me. From the depths of the grave I called for help, and you listened to my cry.” Jonah 2:1a
God had given Jonah a direct command to go to the city of Nineveh, but Jonah went in the opposite direction. Now, as a result, Jonah found himself in a very difficult place…. inside the very fish that God had sent to save him. I’m sure all of us can relate to Jonah’s dilemma. All of us have brought on our own place of difficulty because we stubbornly went in the opposite direction than God wanted us to go.
The people of Nineveh were extremely wicked but God wanted to be sure they heard the truth, had a chance to change and an opportunity for forgiveness. And Jonah was the one He wanted to use to do so, but Jonah wanted no part of it. Jonah had heard of their wickedness and he didn’t think they deserved a second chance. He admits his reasoning later to God when he says, “O Lord, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.” Jonah 4:2b NIV
Yet, here, in Jonah’s hour of need, he cries out to God for help! When he needed a second chance, he was glad to know that God is gracious, compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. He was glad to know that he served a God who relents from sending calamity! It’s funny how we tend to see God differently when we are the one in need of His grace!
With all of Jonah’s mistakes, he had a very good understanding of the love of God. He was right in his assessment of God’s mercy. I find hope in the story of Jonah. I’m thankful that our God is slow to anger and abounding in love!
In that moment, Jonah said something that you and I would be wise to remember.
“Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.” Jonah 2:8 NIV
What are you clinging to today that is causing you to forfeit the grace that could be yours? Does it really have value? Is it worth the cost? God is offering you a second chance today. He is compassionate, patient and merciful. His love for you abounds! So why not let go of that which is worthless and embrace the grace that God is offering?