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Jonah: Understanding the Grace of God that endures

By Pastor Joe Balaan


Can you imagine a man being swallowed by a big fish and getting out alive? When I was 6 years old, I read the story of Jonah in our library and was amazed! It is an incredible story and most people would find it hard to believe.  

But the problem is not in the story but in our view of God.

Why do we ask God about certain events in our life that happen because of our disobedience to Him?

Jonah 1:2 says, “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.”

When God said GO TO NINEVEH, it is a scary thought. That is probably why Jonah ran far away to Tarshish. Why, you ask, did Jonah disobey?

1. We cannot understand the situation in the eyes of God. Jonah knew that the people of Nineveh would repent and that God would readily forgive them. He did not want that to happen. The reason we do not understand God and why He allows things to happen is because we do not understand the situation in His eyes.

When this is the only thing that you read, you will not understand the great anger of God against Nineveh. In the book of Nahum, you will see that the Assyrians were violent people who did cruel acts to the citizens of the places they conquered. God wanted to destroy them but He also wanted to give them a chance. God´s mercy and grace is for everybody and Jonah failed to see this.

2.We do not see the purpose of God in every situation.God is always knocking on our hearts, sometimes already pounding, but we remain indifferent to His call. When Joseph´s brothers found out that he was the second highest official in all of Egypt, they sent a letter from their father asking him to forgive them. But in Genesis 50:20, Joseph said, “You intended to harm me. But God intended it for good.” There is a purpose for everything. If we do not know the purpose of God for our life, we will not understand what is happening.

a. The purposes of God are interconnected. Our lives are intertwined with the lives of others. Just like in Jonah, God is using Assyria for Israel to also go back to Him. 

b. The things that are happening in our life is part of one big plan. There is a bigger picture. Your life is a part of God’s big plan and that is why you should do your best even if you are just a tiny dot in the universe.

Proverbs 14:12  says “There is a way that appears to be right but in the end will lead to death.” No not all good things are good, and not all bad things are truly bad. 

There is a song that rings well in my heart. It was written by Horatio Spafford in 1870, a rich businessman in Chicago and an elder in a Presbyterian Church. During the Great Chicago Fire, all of his property burned down. His wife Anna, who was sick at that time, traveled to England to go to Moody’s crusade which he wanted to support. On the way there with their four children, their ship sank. Anna was saved after 9 days and sent a telegram to her husband saying that she survived alone. He hurriedly went to her and on the way, the captain of the ship showed him where his wife’s ship sank. While looking out into the waters, he wrote the lyrics to the song “It Is Well With My Soul.”

When peace like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll. Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to sayIt is well, it is well, with my soul

It is well with my soul. It is well, it is well with my soul

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,Let this blest assurance control,That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,And hath shed His own blood for my soul

It is well (it is well)With my soul (with my soul)It is well, it is well with my soul

Whatever we are going through, no matter how big the waves, God is teaching us to say “It is well with my soul.”

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