Agonizomai: Jonah 2:10 - Abiding Through the Trial

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Jonah 2:10 - Abiding Through the Trial
(Bearing God's Chastisement with Patience and Thanksgiving)

10 And the LORD spoke to the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land.

One more time – when did Jonah render thanksgiving to God? Was it during his chastisement and before God’s gracious delivery of him? Or did Jonah wait to see if God would do what he wanted Him to do before rendering thanks? "Give thanks in all circumstances" is the message. "Go through the ordeal" is the message. Don’t always be expecting deliverance from your circumstances, but rather thankfully and humbly ask for the grace to go through them. By all means ask for deliverance with the proviso "if it be God’s will." But It may not be. Be ready and thankful either way. Jonah was thankful both in the belly of the fish and after his deliverance.

When we give thanks in all things then the burden is truly light, as the Saviour promised it would be. Though we may still have to go through the trial - or more likely as in this case, the chastisement - yet He is with us and that is just as good as if we had been spat out unharmed on the other side the trouble. Again, wasn’t it Christ Who promised that not a hair of our heads would perish? It won’t. All we have to do is to abide, trust, endure, remain and keep on in faith until the end. I say “all”, but this "all" would itself be impossible but for He Who is in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure.

The end is always only as far away as your next breath. With each breath God is saying to you "Abide, watch and wait until I come for you." With each breath we reply "Amen, come quickly, Lord Jesus nevertheless not our will, but yours be done." We are but sojourners upon the earth as Jonah sojourned in the belly of the fish – as indeed Christ sojourned both in the earth and in the belly of the earth. The devil could not trip Him. The world could not corrupt Him. The grave could not hold Him. And as we abide in Him we will see more and more that these things are also His gift to us. But we must abide in Him.

So, let us think and act as sojourners – as if our home was elsewhere. By the grace of God we will, as by the grace of God Jonah did – and as, by the God of grace, our Lord did in His sojourn upon the earth. Do we begin to see the deep and abiding Truth in that simple statement of our Lord’s that, "This is the will of God – that you believe in Him Whom He has sent.?" All else springs from Him through our abiding faith. The works are what spring not from our decision to do something for God, but as the fruit of our struggling to believe and abide in Christ in all things.

When we struggle to abide in His love then His love overflows in us towards others. But if we struggle to express our love in a merely carnal imitation of Christ, we shall find that we have no love to give. And worse – that which we think of as our love is not only of no avail, but is actually harmful.

And here is Jonah – disobedient, illogical, sinning Jonah – a human being with warts and all, just like every single one of God’s saints in both the Old and the New Testaments – brought by grace to repentance, giving thanks to God, even in desperate circumstance of his own making, and receiving the mercy of being delivered – restored from rebellion unto service, as we shall see.

My moniker - that's John Hancock to Americans


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