The Lord pursues His children, even to the depths of the seas of rebellion. When we flee His presence, He follows us. His purposes and plans will not be thwarted by our game of hide and seek. The Almighty God knows our hiding places and in His grace and mercy finds us.
When was the last time you failed to follow God’s call to holiness? Maybe you knew you should give a gracious answer, but instead responded to a friend, spouse, or child with anger. Perhaps you knew you were to be content in a situation, but discontentment filled your heart. Or maybe you knew God would take care of you and your loved ones, but you didn’t stop worrying until the situation was over. Regardless, if we’re honest there are many times when we know what would be pleasing to the Lord, but instead we sin with our words or actions. Like our children, we need to be disciplined. Thankfully, our heavenly Father disciplines us for our good, so that we might grow in godliness. Perhaps no book of the Bible teaches this better than the book of Jonah.
If you’re familiar with the book of Jonah, you will recall that God tells Jonah to go to Nineveh to tell the people that God is bringing disaster upon them because of their evil. However, instead of following God’s call, Jonah flees, sailing in the opposite direction of Nineveh. But the Lord caused a bad storm on the sea that threatened the safety of the sailors. Seeking to save the ship, they cried out to their gods, tossed cargo overboard, asked Jonah to cry out to his God, cast lots to see whose fault it was, and even threw Jonah overboard. It was the latter that stopped the storm. Remarkably, the sailors recognized the power of the true God and worshiped Him.
Meanwhile, the Lord appointed a fish to swallow Jonah. For three days and three nights he remained in its belly. Finally, in the darkness Jonah repented and the Lord had the fish vomit him onto dry land. The story of Jonah goes on to tell of his ministry in Nineveh, the mighty cries of the Ninevites that averted God’s judgment, and the misery of Jonah after witnessing God’s grace upon the wicked. But I want to focus on what happened in the belly of the fish because it instructs us on how to respond to God’s discipline.