Have You Forgotten?
Those of us growing up with Christian parents may have recited a blessing around the dinner table that began, "God is great. God is good." We likely uttered such blessings during a time when our greatest frustrations revolved around early bedtimes and eating our vegetables. And just as that blessing may have faded from our minds, so are the days long gone when our troubles were so light.
Now we likely find our fears revolving around the struggles of raising our children well, caring for our elderly parents, or simply living with a constant reminder of death. Yet, as much as our troubles may have changed with the passing of time, our need to anchor our souls with the reminder of God's goodness and greatness hasn't changed. This is why Jonah 1 should be a source of great encouragement for us.
Learning from Jonah
In this first chapter of Jonah, the greatness of God’s sovereign control is on display. After Jonah runs from God, we are told that God “hurled a great wind upon the sea” (Jonah 1:4), stopped the raging sea once Jonah was thrown in (v. 15), and “appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah” (v. 17). None of these events happened by chance. In his sovereignty, God was directing every element in the story to bring about his good purpose of sending Jonah to the Ninevites. We see clearly in this chapter the greatness of our God.
Yet it is not merely the greatness of God’s sovereignty that shines forth in these events, but also his goodness and love. Jonah did not want to go to the Ninevites, as their wickedness was well known. But God was aware of far more atrocities committed by these people than Jonah had known, and God’s personal offense at their evils was much greater than anything Jonah had felt. Yet, unlike Jonah, God did not distance himself from the Ninevites but eagerly extended to them his mercy and compassion. He exercised his sovereign control in these events so that, in love, he might show his goodness to a people who had made themselves his enemies. Such love, Paul tells us, “surpasses knowledge” (Ephesians 3:19).
Therefore, as we are weighed down by the struggles of our lives today, we can remind ourselves again that our God is great, and he is good. As in the days of Jonah, he still controls the events of our world and lovingly directs them toward his good purposes.
Should we ever doubt this, we can remember that years after Jonah, God again demonstrated his goodness and greatness as he sent his Son to a people who were his enemies so that, by his death and resurrection, we might become his children.
This article by Lee Tankersley is adapted from the ESV Women's Devotional Bible.