Jonah and the Kindness of a Whale

God is pursuing you even when you can't see it.

When I was a kid, and I read the story of Jonah, Jonah was almost comically bad. Like, I could see myself throwing tomatoes at him and booing. He was the guy in a movie you catch yourself screaming at, “How can you make such bad choices?!”

Jonah knew what God wanted to do and ran head-over-heels in the opposite direction. This used to look foolish to me (don’t get me wrong, it IS foolish), but now it stops me in my tracks; how many times have I known that God wanted me to do something, and I just… don’t do it? How often should I have read my Bible, prayed, or been nicer to someone?

Jonah ran away in one monumental, pea-brained way. I run away in a thousand little ways every day. I AM Jonah in the story.

When I read the story with myself in the place of Jonah, it is both overwhelmingly scary and comforting. God didn’t gently remind Jonah of what he was supposed to do; He pursued him with fierceness and fury in the form of a powerful storm and big fish.

Jonah’s rebellion wasn’t going to keep him from God and what God had planned for him. Forces of nature weren’t going to keep him away. The other people on the ship weren’t going to. NOTHING. But that also means that no matter how far WE try to run, God pursues us the same distance.

God pursues us, even when we're far from Him, just like He did Jonah. But God’s pursuit doesn’t always feel like we think it should. I always imagine God pursuing me as a warm hug and a cup of hot chocolate on a cold winter day, but the reality is that sometimes it feels a lot more like being swallowed up by a giant fish.

(Side note- do you know how bad a dog's breath is? What about a rotten fish? Can you imagine how bad the belly of that fish smelled? “Wow, God loves me so much” is probably NOT what Jonah was thinking.)

As a kid, I saw the whale as a punishment for Jonah being so disobedient.

Now I see that the whale was a kindness to Jonah.

God did whatever needed to be done to bring Jonah back to Him and put him back on the right track.

God sent the whale to mold Jonah into who He needed him to be. 

I recently started reading a book called Hinds Feet on High Places, which is an allegorical story for the Gospel. In the story, a girl named Much Afraid is trying to get into the High Place where true love lives. In order to help prepare her to live in the High Place, this kind, gentle, good shepherd gives her two companions to help her on her journey up the mountain.

Those companions who took her hand and helped her up the mountain were named suffering and sorrow.

When bad things happen or our plan is changed, it isn’t because God is mad at us or punishing us; sometimes, He is using suffering and sorrow to mold us in our lives. To make us more like Him.

Being in the belly of the fish made Jonah repent and cry out to the Lord. Sometimes, He lets us be swallowed up by a whale to make us stop and focus our eyes on Him. 

Friend, if you have a relationship with Him, sorrows and hardships can be evidence He is doing a good work in you, not evidence He is mad at you or has abandoned you. 

Take a minute and ask yourself: what could God be trying to do in and through me through my mountains and whales? What wonderful things could come on the other side? 

God pursuing you might not look like you want or expect, but He IS pursuing you, each and every day.

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