“In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me. From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help, and you listened to my cry” (Jonah chapter 2, verse 2).
Lessons from Jonah’s Story
After reading Jonah from the Old Testament with my Faith Seekers Group at Sunday School, I realized a few points:
Use our talents to glorify God
Instead of making excuses, we should use our talents to fulfill God’s mission. Jonah ran away from God’s order because he never wanted to share the love with his enemies. When we see bad people having all the blessings from God, we feel jealous. But if bad things happen to bad people, we feel contented thinking they deserve it.
Jonah thought that the people of Nineveh deserved punishment and are cruel by nature. Whenever we decide to disobey, we find excuses like the prophet Jonah. But we should be encouraged and let God work through us.
Don’t run from your purpose
Hiding is a natural human behaviour when you have done something wrong. After eating the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve hid from God. In the same manner when Jonah was not willing to fulfil the task given to him by God, he ran away thinking God will let go. Sometimes God let us go on in our sin so that we have to face the costs of own disobedience. Running will never work with orders of God. But it’s better to run to God and seek help and understanding of what is expected of us.
Storms are a way to get our attention
The people around you with different faiths never allow you to give them sermons but when the storms of life comes, they definitely want your prayers. Storms in life are sent to us from God to get our attention. He allows others to suffer because of sin, and he sends someone to challenge us. In Jonah’s case, the captain woke him up and told him to pray so the storm would stop. The storm is sometimes an opportunity to introduce God in people’s life.
Jonah wants the city to be punished because they are wicked. The reason why he refused to go to Nineveh is that God is loving and compassionate, that he is willing to forgive the people of Nineveh should they repent because Jonah knew God well (Jonah chapter 4, verse 2). God’s love is unlimited and unconditional. He is ready to forgive and take us back into His kingdom if we repent. God never gave up on Jonah and the people of Nineveh because it’s written in Numbers chapter 14, verse 18 that “God is slow to anger and can forgive any sin”.
Are we happy to see good things happening to people we don’t love? The same happened with Jonah. He was of the view that the people of Nineveh deserved the punishment and anger of God. But the Father is so happy to receive his erring son. When good things happen to family, friends, relatives, colleagues, or to anyone, learn to celebrate their accomplishments. It’s an indication of a matured faith.
“I am the Lord God. I am merciful and very patient with my people. I show great love, and I can be trusted” (Exodus chapter 34, verse 4).
Jennifer Javed Khan is a PSI young writer from Pakistan.