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Jonah 3: 10
When God saw what they 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.
There is so much packed into this little book in the Bible but we will start with “repentance” It is amazing what repentance will do! God showed His mercy and grace because the people of Nineveh chose to turn from all the wickedness they were doing after Jonah warned them of the disaster to come!
The story of Jonah has always fascinated me since I was little! I cannot imagine how terrifying it would be to be in the “belly” of anything, let alone in a fish in the sea! Ewwww! I don’t know if you could get the smell of fish out of your nose for the rest of your life! YUK! But think about it, he wasn’t sitting in there building a campfire like some pictures portray him. Obviously he had enough space to breathe, but you talk about having to wait on God……. the thought had to cross his mind that “this could be the end”! He had to wonder if he was going to die some slow, painful death in that fish. God certainly put Him in a place where He only had time to think about his behavior and he had plenty of time to pray without too many distractions. I think my prayer may have been a bit less elegant (read Jonah 2) and a tad bit more frantic: “God save me! Don’t let me die in here! I am so sorry! I will live for you and do what ever you ask me to do for the rest of my life, no matter what! Please, please forgive me!” I just can’t even imagine!
It is amazing though, that after all of that, Jonah’s attitude toward Nineveh didn’t really change. He did what he said he would do and he obeyed God and went to Nineveh and told them of the disaster to come if they didn’t turn from their wicked ways, but then he was angry when they chose to repent! I don’t know of a preacher on earth that wouldn’t love to be able to preach a sermon and change the entire town they are in! Can you just imagine if your preacher walked through the street proclaiming the gospel and all of the people including the Mayor decided to repent? There were approximately 120,000 people living in Nineveh at the time! Wow! What a revival! You would think Jonah would be ecstatic! Not a chance, he went off to pout! His complaint was, “see God? I told you this is what would happen and that’s why I didn’t want to go!” (Hello, Jonah, can you still smell the fish?!) Amazing, but the sad thing is that sometimes we do the same thing if someone has done us wrong!
Is there someone in your life today that should repent, but you aren’t real sure how you feel about God showing His mercy and grace to them? Maybe they have hurt you so deeply that you can’t bear the thought of God’s goodness (His mercy and grace) on their life, you are ready for God’s judgment on them! You want to see them pay! You are over wanting anything good for them because they have robbed you of so much! I totally understand, but freedom comes from letting them go! You have to be willing to allow God to work in his/her life on a level that will glorify Him! If you want God’s best in your own life, you need to give Him your pain, your worries, your hopes and dreams and allow Him to work out His perfect will in you and the lives of others as well. It’s not easy! I know one of the toughest things to face can be when you go through a divorce, not because you want it but because you really don’t have a choice, and he/she remarries and it is so difficult to pray that God will work in their life in order for them to still be all God created them to be because why should their new spouse benefit from that, while all you have left is the broken heart, pain, and broken dreams and promises? Divorce is a terrible thing and the hurt is beyond anything you can imagine until you have been through it, but God can heal your heart and He can give you a life full of hope and His goodness and promises! Focus on Him! If He truly moves in that other persons life, then you know that conviction and repentance will have to come with it! The main thing though is that He wants to work in your life! He wants to heal your heart! He wants to make you into all you can be! He wants to give you new dreams! He wants Jeremiah 29:11 for you, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans for good and not for harm, plans to give you a hope and a future!” Put all of your hope in Him, no one else, just Him! No one on earth can meet your every need the way He can! He loves you, you are special and He will see you through, just give it all to Him! The best is yet to come!
“When you have nothing left but God, you discover that God is enough.’ A. Maude Royden