To be honest anytime I read the book of Jonah, I don’t think too highly of him. I have actually wondered why the book of Jonah is even in the Bible. In my eyes, Jonah was no hero. He was whiny . He grumbled and complained. A lot. He didn’t want to go where God was sending him so he ran away. And then in the end when the people of Ninevah repented, Jonah became angry, saying he would rather die and told God to “Kill me now” because God forgave them and didn’t destroy them like Jonah had predicted.
However there are things that can be learned from this short book in the Bible. You see, as Christians, we love to blame the devil when things go wrong in our life. We say things like we are under attack from the enemy. Sometimes that is true. The enemy does come to kill and destroy. But in a recent sermon I heard at our “Spanglish” church, the youth pastor, Bryan made a very good point and one I hadn’t thought too much about before…and that is, often times we create our own storms. (Italics in this post are Bryan’s) Perhaps it is brought on our disobedience or not doing what we know to be the right thing to do. Sometimes we put ourselves in a certain situation by our bad decisions. We can make a real mess of things on our own. If we don’t study for an exam, chances are we will fail. Here in Honduras if we drink water that is not purified we will indeed get sick. Perhaps we lose our temper and say thing we shouldn’t, and relationships are damaged. Maybe we don’t follow through with what we promise causing disappointment and lack of trust. Or we fail to show up for work a few days, causing extra work for those we work with and the very good possibility of being fired. So you see, our storms just don’t impact us, they can also impact those around us. For instance with Jonah, he ran from God and got on boat going in the other direction. The Lord allowed an awful storm to come up. The men on the boat with Jonah were scared out of their minds, not knowing what they should do. They thought they were going to die and all because of this guy Jonah who was in their boat running from God. He was the cause of their storm. Pastor Bryan said in his sermon, “Sometimes Jonah is still in our boat. It’s time to throw Jonah out of your boat.”
And speaking of messes, I remember many years ago when our children were very young. We were living in Essex Ontario and we had a large fenced in back yard with a couple small sheds. To our horror, it came to our attention that our boys were using one of the little sheds as an outhouse to poop in. They knew I didn’t want them running in and out of the house every few minutes. They were also old enough to know that pooping in the shed was a very bad idea and that if caught they would be in BIG trouble. It was a young boy that I was babysitting that told me “Mrs. Carolyn, someone’s been pooping in your shed!” Being the firecracker that I am, I let Dale handle the situation. He did. He calmly took them to the shed and provided them with the supplies needed to clean their mess. They didn’t like that at all. It was a nasty job, but that was the consequence for the mess they created. God provided a big fish to get Jonah out of the storm. The storm brought on by his disobedience. Certainly it would not have been enjoyable. Three days in the belly of a fish. It would have been uncomfortable. Dark. Cold. Smelly. God won’t allow us to be comfortable with our bad decisions. He loves us that much!
No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening, it’s painful! But afterward, there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.