Jonah #4 – Don’t Ignore the Lord’s Discipline:
“Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the fish’s belly. And he said: “I cried out to the Lord because of my affliction, And He answered me. “Out of the belly of Sheol I cried, And You heard my voice. For You cast me into the deep, Into the heart of the seas, And the floods surrounded me; All Your billows and Your waves passed over me. Then I said, ‘I have been cast out of Your sight; Yet I will look again toward Your holy temple.’ The waters surrounded me, even to my soul; The deep closed around me; Weeds were wrapped around my head. I went down to the moorings of the mountains; The earth with its bars closed behind me forever; Yet You have brought up my life from the pit, O Lord, my God. “When my soul fainted within me, I remembered the Lord; And my prayer went up to You, Into Your holy temple. “Those who regard worthless idols Forsake their own Mercy. But I will sacrifice to You With the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay what I have vowed. Salvation is of the Lord.” So the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.” (Jonah 2:1-10).
God had called Jonah to prophesy His Word to the people of Nineveh. Jonah said no, and ran in the other direction. But God was faster than Jonah, and He caught him. He chased him with the wind, and then He caught him with a whale. Now, God had Jonah’s undivided attention. And what is the first thing Jonah did, as he sat in the belly of the whale? He prayed to the Lord his God. It looks like Jonah was finally coming to his senses! Here he is just like the prodigal son in Luke 15:17-19, “But when he came to himself, he said, How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.” Jonah had been a rebellious son, and had been running away from God. However, when the Lord finally got his attention, Jonah remembered the Lord. But notice that this never happened until his soul fainted with him. Sometimes we have to hit rock bottom before we’ll realize how far we’ve wandered from the Lord, before we’ll turn back to him.
“And have you entirely forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you, his children? He said, “My child, don’t ignore it when the Lord disciplines you, and don’t be discouraged when he corrects you. For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes those he accepts as his children.” As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Whoever heard of a child who was never disciplined? If God doesn’t discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children after all. Since we respect our earthly fathers who disciplined us, should we not all the more cheerfully submit to the discipline of our heavenly Father and live forever? For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always right and good for us because it means we will share in his holiness. No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening – it is painful! But afterward there will be a quiet harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.” (Hebrews 12:5-11).
Maybe like Jonah you find yourself experiencing the discipline of the Lord. Sure, you’re not sitting in the belly of a whale, but maybe you’ve gotten yourself into a difficult situation, and it looks like there’s no way out. Follow the example of Jonah, and pray to the Lord, remember the Lord, and worship the Lord. Remember, your salvation is of the Lord. “He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, Out of the miry clay, And set my feet upon a rock, And established my steps.” (Psalm 40:2).
Pastor Chris Jordan