Friday, February 22, 2019

Reflection - Jonah Prays, God Delivers - Lessons from troubles and suffering

Source (book): "God in Pursuit", Chapter 4, Question 3, Page 61.
By Robert M. Solomon, Bishop of the Methodist Church in Singapore from 2000 - 2012


Review the lessons that Jonah learned from being in the fish's belly, and think about how you can apply them to your life.
PHOTO: Review the lessons that Jonah learned from being in the fish's belly, and think about how you can apply them to your life.
We learn deep lessons when we are in deep trouble. For Jonah, the underwater experience in the belly of the fish taught him several important truths:

  • One cannot run away from God successfully.
  • Some of the fearful things or events that we face (great waves, freezing sea water, or a big fish) could actually be instruments in the hands of a God who is both just and merciful.
  • Even in the deepest gloom, we can pray to God, because He is always with us.
  • God answers such prayers (Jonah 2:1, 6).
  • Salvation comes from the Lord, not from worthless idols (Jonah 2:8, 9). Today, we can worship idols such as money, prestige, property, pleasure, health, and worldly knowledge. To place our trust in them is to act foolishly, because our salvation comes from God alone.
How to apply them to our life:
One cannot run away from God successfully.
Every morning my sister and I would prefer to go to the PCN (Park Connector Networks) for our daily morning walk and exercises, because the canal reservoir has wider environmental space, fresher air, and with the company of the elderly uncles. However there are times when the monsoon rain do not permit us to walk along the coast to coast trail. Go against the better judgement of God means possibility of being drenched, and facing the danger of lightning and thunders. Also there are the dangers of falling trees, especially during thunderstorms with powerful winds. Face with such dangerous situation, the alternative is walking along the sheltered link-way around our neighbourhood. To deliberately go against God, means disobedience, and that also means to run away from His instructions which will have its dire consequences.

Some of the fearful things or events that we face (great waves, freezing sea water, or a big fish) could actually be instruments in the hands of a God who is both just and merciful.
Our daily pre-dawn walk and exercises along the PCN has its benefits as well as dangers. During monsoon weather we can expect lightning, thunderstorms, and falling trees. There are also other dangers along the forested edge. Wild dogs, monitor lizards, and snakes are out searching for food. We need the continuous protection of our Lord to keep us safe from the dangers of nature. Because of the fearful things and events that we might face, could actually bring us closer to God. We desperately need His help to successfully complete our routine, especially when encountering dangerous situations.

Even in the deepest gloom, we can pray to God, because He is always with us.
Normally, it is during desperate moments and hopeless situations that we seek God's help. We would pray for His protection and guidance, because He is always with us. It is more comforting to know that He is always monitoring us, and especially so when faced with oncoming charging dogs. Without an umbrella during thunderstorm, we may feel vulnerable. But with fierce tropical storm and raging wind, even with an umbrella we still feel inadequate and unsafe. Whenever in our deepest gloom, we need God to be with us. We can pray to God, as other helps are not always available. But He is always with us.
 

God answers such prayers (Jonah 2:1, 6).
With wild animals lurking and attacking unexpectedly, we need God whom we can trust and rely upon. In dangerous situations, our urgent prayers need His response. And we can trust God because He will act to save us from what might appear to be a hopeless situation. Among other things, we pray for His timeless love, and continual offer of Salvation.

Salvation comes from the Lord, not from worthless idols (Jonah 2:8, 9). Today, we can worship idols such as money, prestige, property, pleasure, health, and worldly knowledge. To place our trust in them is to act foolishly, because our salvation comes from God alone.
God love us. He know that we cannot make it by ourselves, so He already had planned, and executed His plan to save us. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16). The only way to be saved is to accept His offer of Salvation, and to enter into a relationship with Him. To place our trust in idols is foolish because only God alone can save us. We could pray for His wrath not to come upon us, but for His Holy Spirit to come and help all of us to accept the offer of Salvation, so that we can have joy and real rest together with Him forever. By sending Jesus Christ to suffer and die for us, so that we can have the offer of Salvation, we are very grateful.

 
We rely on Jesus' promise in John 10:28-30: "I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.


How does suffering help us draw closer to God and become more Christ-like?
In his book, Where Is God When It Hurts, Christian writer Philip Yancey tells the story of how 17th-century poet and preacher John Donne suffered after he married the daughter of a disapproving lord. Fired from his job as assistant to the Lord Chancellor, he was separated from his wife and thrown in prison, where he wrote the famously succinct (briefly and clearly expressed) line, "John Donne/Anne Donne/Undone". Later, he endured a long illness that sapped his strength and took him almost to the point of death. During this time, Donne wrote a series of devotions on suffering which rank among the most poignant of meditations on the subject. In one of these, he made this observation: the sickness that had kept him in bed had forced him to think about his spiritual condition.

Suffering gets our attentions, forcing us to look to God when we would otherwise ignore Him. As famous Christian writer C. S. Lewis reminds us in his book, The Problem of Pains, "Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world."

Perhaps it was the same for Jonah. Only when he turned to God as he lay in the belly of the big fish, did he acknowledge that he was suffering the consequence of his own disobedience. He knew that God had hurled him into the depths, and that his survival depended on God. Only then did he lean on God and pray for His mercy. And as he did, he prayed a most beautiful prayer.


How can one avoid a short-term or one-sided view of suffering?
There are also lessons to be learned about suffering. When we suffer because of our foolish and sinful actions, we can understand why. But when suffering seems to come without an explanation, it takes faith to trust that God knows what He is doing. Christians are often guilty of adopting two wrong perspectives when they suffer in this way.

First, short-sightedness: We are unable to see the blessings that await us tomorrow because we are too bogged down by today's pain. We forget that our present pain is light in comparison to the weight of glory that awaits us if we faithfully persist. Our suffering will not last forever; it is only for the moment, and it will be replaced by a glory that lasts for eternity. That's why Paul wrote, "For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all" (2 Corinthians 4:17).

Second, one-sidedness: We see things from the perspective of this world. We see only the gnarled knots on one side of a tapestry, believing that our lives are full of meaningless pain and tragedy; we do not realise that one day, when we stand before the Lord, the tapestry will be turned to the other side, revealing God's workmanship of grace and mercy. Then we will see that all the gnarled knots and crossed threads on this side of life were being used by God to produce something beautiful. Paul wrote that "in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28).


How can we help others who are suffering?
When Jonah fled from God, God went after him - not to destroy him, but to save him from the dire consequences of his sinful flight. In the process, He used the wind, sea, and fish to accomplish His saving purpose. As he lay near death in the fish belly, Jonah knew that God could deliver him, and began looking forward to worshipping in the temple (Jonah 2:4). "But I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to you" (Jonah 2:9). He knew that he would once again stand in the land of the living, because salvation comes from the Lord. Seventeenth-century preacher Thomas Watson once observed, after reading Job 22:21 - "Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace, thereby good shall come unto thee" (KJV) - that "No man did ever come off a loser by his acquaintance with God."


How can we demonstrate the truth that Christ is the only Saviour in our daily lives?
Sometimes, our sufferings are inexplicable and we have great difficulty finding any meaning or purpose behind our pain and trials. It is possible that Satan has a direct hand in our sufferings - as in the case of Job - but we can take comfort in the fact that he is always restrained by God and cannot do anything without God's permission (Job 1:12; 2:6). In such trials, we can be reassured that while Satan has a hand, God has the upper hand.

At other times, however, we suffer when we disobey God.

David had done the right thing in putting himself and his people into God's hands, even if it was for a painful time of corrective discipline.

Jonah must have felt the same way. He took comfort in the fact that God was orchestrating his suffering. After all, it was God's storm, God's waves, and God's fish. The prophet saw the hands of God in all his troubles - which were the result of his own act of disobedience - and acknowledged God's discipline and mercy. True enough, what appeared to be a punishment also turned out to be salvation: the fish that God sent to swallow Jonah also saved the prophet from drowning and provided his safe transport to dry land (Jonah 2:10). Only when Jonah repented did he realise that there was still hope for him. In the hands of God, the waves and the monstrous fish were not only instruments of discipline, but also of salvation - they were the tools of a merciful God.

This is how God often works. When we suffer (whether because of our own foolishness or the malice and sinfulness of others), we need to recognise God's hand in the midst of our suffering. We can pray to the Lord, from whose holy hands no force can pluck us away, as the Lord Jesus promised in John 10:28-30. And we can trust God even when we are at the receiving end of His discipline, because He will act to save us from what might appear to be a hopeless situation.
Picture posted by AliExpress

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Review the lessons that Jonah learned from being in the fish's belly, and think about how you can apply them to your life. How does suffering help us draw closer to God and become more Christ-like? How can one avoid a short-term or one-sided view of suffering? How can we help others who are suffering? How can we demonstrate the truth that Christ is the only Saviour in our daily lives?

Review the lessons that Jonah learned from being in the fish's belly, and think about how you can apply them to your life.

Lessons from the Deep [1]
We learn deep lessons when we are in deep trouble. For Jonah, the underwater experience in the belly of the fish taught him several important truths:

  • One cannot run away from God successfully.
  • Some of the fearful things or events that we face (great waves, freezing sea water, or a big fish) could actually be instruments in the hands of a God who is both just and merciful.
  • Even in the deepest gloom, we can pray to God, because He is always with us.
  • God answers such prayers (Jonah 2:1, 6).
  • Salvation comes from the Lord, not from worthless idols (Jonah 2:8, 9). Today, we can worship idols such as money, prestige, property, pleasure, health, and worldly knowledge. To place our trust in them is to act foolishly, because our salvation comes from God alone.

We learn deep lessons when we are in deep trouble.
PHOTO: We learn deep lessons when we are in deep trouble. For Jonah, the underwater experience in the belly of the fish taught him several important truths.
Picture posted by AliExpress

https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-XNRcUVWhoJA/XG-bXc447_I/AAAAAAAAs5U/GkfGUXGxebkA2IZwuwJSGUjQYvgaDRzaACLcBGAs/s1600/HTB1uCnqed.LL1JjSZFEq6AVmXXaH-1.jpg
https://ae01.alicdn.com/kf/HTB1uCnqed.LL1JjSZFEq6AVmXXaH.jpg
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How to apply them to our life:
One cannot run away from God successfully.
Every morning my sister and I would prefer to go to the PCN (Park Connector Networks) for our daily morning walk and exercises, because the canal reservoir has wider environmental space, fresher air, and with the company of the elderly uncles. However there are times when the monsoon rain do not permit us to walk along the coast to coast trail. Go against the better judgement of God means possibility of being drenched, and facing the danger of lightning and thunders. Also there are the dangers of falling trees, especially during thunderstorms with powerful winds. Face with such dangerous situation, the alternative is walking along the sheltered link-way around our neighbourhood. To deliberately go against God, means disobedience, and that also means to run away from His instructions which will have its dire consequences.

 

One cannot run away from God successfully.
PHOTO: One cannot run away from God successfully.
Go against the better judgement of God means possibility of being drenched, and facing the danger of lightning and thunders. Also there are the dangers of falling trees, especially during thunderstorms with powerful winds. To deliberately go against God, means disobedience, and that also means to run away from His instructions which will have its dire consequences.
Picture posted by jossandre eduardo on 30 March 2013

https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-vVLrQyXV1Pk/XG-bUnKbtOI/AAAAAAAAs40/5L3EQP9jwOAQm9_jYMipMOqCnFuPKNjxACLcBGAs/s1600/1316730516_110.png
https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-x809VekvGEU/UVKsM0XUbfI/AAAAAAAAZQs/1CQVoeVlxnY/w1392-h1953-n-rw/1316730516.jpg
https://plus.google.com/111587566078321354912/posts/AGrA8P9dPni



Some of the fearful things or events that we face (great waves, freezing sea water, or a big fish) could actually be instruments in the hands of a God who is both just and merciful.
Our daily pre-dawn walk and exercises along the PCN has its benefits as well as dangers. During monsoon weather we can expect lightning, thunderstorms, and falling trees. There are also other dangers along the forested edge. Wild dogs, monitor lizards, and snakes are out searching for food. We need the continuous protection of our Lord to keep us safe from the dangers of nature. Because of the fearful things and events that we might face, could actually bring us closer to God. We desperately need His help to successfully complete our routine, especially when encountering dangerous situations.

 

Some of the fearful things or events that we face (great waves, freezing sea water, or a big fish) could actually be instruments in the hands of a God who is both just and merciful.
PHOTO: Some of the fearful things or events that we face (great waves, freezing sea water, or a big fish) could actually be instruments in the hands of a God who is both just and merciful.
We need the continuous protection of our Lord to keep us safe from the dangers of nature. Because of the fearful things and events that we might face, could actually bring us closer to God. We desperately need His help to successfully complete our routine, especially when encountering dangerous situations.
Picture posted by Rash Mohmed on 04 May 2014

https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-WbXpODFAuj8/XG-bUjvyCeI/AAAAAAAAs4w/7wCDNQSCdToTrL3y_GKvf1lzyIBjgmG9QCLcBGAs/s1600/1527005_630701983643721_1370594214_n.png
https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-ol3AY0ZAR_8/Uu-LyK-6P5I/AAAAAAAAJeg/lK-x5XSJmnc/w1392-h1536-n-rw/1527005_630701983643721_1370594214_n.jpg
https://plus.google.com/109080437782053386203/posts/9d3vo1ictZw
https://plus.google.com/109080437782053386203



Even in the deepest gloom, we can pray to God, because He is always with us.
Normally, it is during desperate moments and hopeless situations that we seek God's help. We would pray for His protection and guidance, because He is always with us. It is more comforting to know that He is always monitoring us, and especially so when faced with oncoming charging dogs. Without an umbrella during thunderstorm, we may feel vulnerable. But with fierce tropical storm and raging wind, even with an umbrella we still feel inadequate and unsafe. Whenever in our deepest gloom, we need God to be with us. We can pray to God, as other helps are not always available. But He is always with us.

 

Even in the deepest gloom, we can pray to God, because He is always with us.
PHOTO: Even in the deepest gloom, we can pray to God, because He is always with us.
With fierce tropical storm and raging wind, even with an umbrella we still feel inadequate and unsafe. We can pray to God, as other helps are not always available. But He is always with us.
Picture posted by Woody Gooch - Taking in a summer rain storm at a watering hole inland from Noosa

https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-tVrx2CqqdF4/XG-bXfBLZ_I/AAAAAAAAs5Y/hOiDVChGQ-UVmosCcUqisK6aeqFkf6eTACLcBGAs/s1600/aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuYWR2ZW50dXJlc3BvcnRzbmV0d29yay5jb20vd3AtY29udGVudC91cGxvYWRzLzIwMTYvMDUvYnV0dGVyZmx5LTEwMjR4NjgxLmpwZw%253D%253D.jpg
https://thumb.grindnetworks.com/i4ADKYxmF91UEYODDa-RNZTl6WM=/970x0/filters:format(jpg):quality(80):max_bytes(500000):sharpen(0.2%2C1%2Cfalse):strip_exif():strip_icc()/aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuYWR2ZW50dXJlc3BvcnRzbmV0d29yay5jb20vd3AtY29udGVudC91cGxvYWRzLzIwMTYvMDUvYnV0dGVyZmx5LTEwMjR4NjgxLmpwZw== - (
aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuYWR2ZW50dXJlc3BvcnRzbmV0d29yay5jb20vd3AtY29udGVudC91cGxvYWRzLzIwMTYvMDUvYnV0dGVyZmx5LTEwMjR4NjgxLmpwZw==.jpg) 
https://www.adventuresportsnetwork.com/culture/21-year-old-woody-gooch-takes-the-outdoor-photography-world-by-storm/


God answers such prayers (
Jonah 2:1, 6).
With wild animals lurking and attacking unexpectedly, we need God whom we can trust and rely upon. In dangerous situations, our urgent prayers need His response. And we can trust God because He will act to save us from what might appear to be a hopeless situation. Among other things, we pray for His timeless love, and continual offer of Salvation.

 

God answers such prayers (Jonah 2:1, 6).
PHOTO: God answers such prayers (Jonah 2:1, 6).
We can trust God because He will act to save us from what might appear to be a hopeless situation. Among other things, we pray for His timeless love, and continual offer of Salvation.
Picture posted by Daniela Ark

https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-BrQ4tRUJMJI/XG-bYzwkXXI/AAAAAAAAs50/04-FChSKCLAHDWddVZB41Nw5-IzGjoNJwCLcBGAs/s1600/girl-3421489.png
https://i1.wp.com/www.danielaark.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/girl-3421489.jpg
https://www.danielaark.com/lets-talk-about-mental-health-in-books/



Salvation comes from the Lord, not from worthless idols (Jonah 2:8, 9). Today, we can worship idols such as money, prestige, property, pleasure, health, and worldly knowledge. To place our trust in them is to act foolishly, because our salvation comes from God alone.
God love us. He know that we cannot make it by ourselves, so He already had planned, and executed His plan to save us. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16). The only way to be saved is to accept His offer of Salvation, and to enter into a relationship with Him. To place our trust in idols is foolish because only God alone can save us. We could pray for His wrath not to come upon us, but for His Holy Spirit to come and help all of us to accept the offer of Salvation, so that we can have joy and real rest together with Him forever. By sending Jesus Christ to suffer and die for us, so that we can have the offer of Salvation, we are very grateful.

We rely on Jesus' promise in John 10:28-30: "I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.



Salvation comes from the Lord, not from worthless idols (Jonah 2:8, 9).
PHOTO: Salvation comes from the Lord, not from worthless idols (Jonah 2:8, 9). Today, we can worship idols such as money, prestige, property, pleasure, health, and worldly knowledge. To place our trust in them is to act foolishly, because our salvation comes from God alone.
Picture posted by A Girl Named Leney on 25 March 2017

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https://static1.squarespace.com/static/54c9aca6e4b048a4f3150b00/t/58d309faa5790a40dd948a08/1490225679301/www.agirlnamedleney.com?format=1000w
http://www.agirlnamedleney.com/journal/thedirtofourhurt



How does suffering help us draw closer to God and become more Christ-like? [3]
In his book, Where Is God When It Hurts, Christian writer Philip Yancey tells the story of how 17th-century poet and preacher John Donne suffered after he married the daughter of a disapproving lord. [16] Fired from his job as assistant to the Lord Chancellor, he was separated from his wife and thrown in prison, where he wrote the famously succinct (briefly and clearly expressed) line, "John Donne/Anne Donne/Undone". Later, he endured a long illness that sapped his strength and took him almost to the point of death. During this time, Donne wrote a series of devotions on suffering which rank among the most poignant of meditations on the subject. In one of these, he made this observation: the sickness that had kept him in bed had forced him to think about his spiritual condition.



In his book, Where Is God When It Hurts, Christian writer Philip Yancey tells the story of how 17th-century poet and preacher John Donne suffered after he married the daughter of a disapproving lord.

PHOTO: In his book, Where Is God When It Hurts, Christian writer Philip Yancey tells the story of how 17th-century poet and preacher John Donne suffered after he married the daughter of a disapproving lord. Donne endured a long illness that sapped his strength and took him almost to the point of death. During this time, Donne wrote a series of devotions on suffering which rank among the most poignant of meditations on the subject. He made this observation: the sickness that had kept him in bed had forced him to think about his spiritual condition.
Picture posted by Real Life with Jack Herbbs

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https://veryfatoldman.blogspot.com/2019/01/reflection-jonah-prays-god-delivers.html



Suffering gets our attentions, forcing us to look to God when we would otherwise ignore Him. As famous Christian writer C. S. Lewis reminds us in his book, The Problem of Pains, "Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world." [17]



Suffering gets our attentions, forcing us to look to God when we would otherwise ignore Him.
PHOTO: Suffering gets our attentions, forcing us to look to God when we would otherwise ignore Him.
"Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world." - C. S. Lewis.
Picture posted by Jason Schroeder, slide 60 of 125
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https://slideplayer.com/slide/256387/
https://veryfatoldman.blogspot.com/2019/01/reflection-jonah-prays-god-delivers.html



Perhaps it was the same for Jonah. Only when he turned to God as he lay in the belly of the big fish, did he acknowledge that he was suffering the consequence of his own disobedience. He knew that God had hurled him into the depths, and that his survival depended on God. Only then did he lean on God and pray for His mercy. And as he did, he prayed a most beautiful prayer.



Only when Jonah turned to God as he lay in the belly of the big fish, did he acknowledge that he was suffering the consequence of his own disobedience.
PHOTO: Only when Jonah turned to God as he lay in the belly of the big fish, did he acknowledge that he was suffering the consequence of his own disobedience. He knew that God had hurled him into the depths, and that his survival depended on God. Only then did he lean on God and pray for His mercy. Suffering gets our attentions, forcing us to look to God when we would otherwise ignore Him.
Picture posted by iStockphoto LP (Getty Images)

https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-JnthpASETCg/XE7zkkETl2I/AAAAAAAAsqI/uQQm7J5UzMQeJ801j-2OFWJwvWRts3eaACLcBGAs/s1600/istockphoto-496820022-612x612.jpg

https://www.istockphoto.com/nl/illustraties/jonah?mediatype=illustration&phrase=jonah&sort=mostpopular
https://veryfatoldman.blogspot.com/2019/01/reflection-jonah-prays-god-delivers.html



How can one avoid a short-term or one-sided view of suffering? [1]
There are also lessons to be learned about suffering. When we suffer because of our foolish and sinful actions, we can understand why. But when suffering seems to come without an explanation, it takes faith to trust that God knows what He is doing. Christians are often guilty of adopting two wrong perspectives when they suffer in this way.



How can one avoid a short-term or one-sided view of suffering?
PHOTO: How can one avoid a short-term or one-sided view of suffering?
When we suffer because of our foolish and sinful actions, we can understand why. But when suffering seems to come without an explanation, it takes faith to trust that God knows what He is doing.
Picture posted by Depositphotos - Lonely girl walks on the beach

https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-d6qABnBwIOQ/XG-bXqYLd5I/AAAAAAAAs5c/zHtfhdAIywk6_oMk5JP2Wg8PDkDUuEPvACLcBGAs/s1600/depositphotos_140007244_1.png
https://st3.depositphotos.com/5628432/14000/v/950/depositphotos_140007244-stock-illustration-lonely-girl-walks-on-the.jpg - depositphotos_140007244.jpg)
https://depositphotos.com/140007244/stock-illustration-lonely-girl-walks-on-the.html



First, short-sightedness: We are unable to see the blessings that await us tomorrow because we are too bogged down by today's pain. We forget that our present pain is light in comparison to the weight of glory that awaits us if we faithfully persist. Our suffering will not last forever; it is only for the moment, and it will be replaced by a glory that lasts for eternity. That's why Paul wrote, "For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all" (2 Corinthians 4:17).



Short-sightedness: We are unable to see the blessings that await us tomorrow because we are too bogged down by today's pain.
PHOTO: Short-sightedness: We are unable to see the blessings that await us tomorrow because we are too bogged down by today's pain. We forget that our present pain is light in comparison to the weight of glory that awaits us if we faithfully persist.
Picture posted by Depositphotos - A lonely woman walks away, the birds circling overhead

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Second, one-sidedness: We see things from the perspective of this world. We see only the gnarled knots on one side of a tapestry, believing that our lives are full of meaningless pain and tragedy; we do not realise that one day, when we stand before the Lord, the tapestry will be turned to the other side, revealing God's workmanship of grace and mercy. Then we will see that all the gnarled knots and crossed threads on this side of life were being used by God to produce something beautiful. Paul wrote that "in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28).



One-sidedness: We see things from the perspective of this world.
PHOTO: One-sidedness: We see things from the perspective of this world. We believe that our lives are full of meaningless pain and tragedy; we do not realise that one day, when we stand before the Lord, the tapestry will be turned to the other side, revealing God's workmanship of grace and mercy.
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How can we help others who are suffering? [1]
Preacher Charles Spurgeon had a plaque mounted on a wall of his bedroom, with the words of Isaiah 48:10 etched on it: "I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction" (KJV).

"It is no mean thing to be chosen of God," he wrote. "God's choice makes chosen men choice men . . . We are chosen, not to the palace, but in the furnace. In the furnace, beauty is marred, fashion is destroyed, strength is melted, glory is consumed; yet here eternal love reveals its secrets, and declares its choice." [19]

 

It is no mean thing to be chosen of God
PHOTO: "It is no mean thing to be chosen of God," Preacher Charles Spurgeon wrote. "God's choice makes chosen men choice men . . . We are chosen, not to the palace, but in the furnace. In the furnace, beauty is marred, fashion is destroyed, strength is melted, glory is consumed; yet here eternal love reveals its secrets, and declares its choice."
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When Jonah fled from God, God went after him - not to destroy him, but to save him from the dire consequences of his sinful flight. In the process, He used the wind, sea, and fish to accomplish His saving purpose. As he lay near death in the fish belly, Jonah knew that God could deliver him, and began looking forward to worshipping in the temple (Jonah 2:4). "But I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to you" (Jonah 2:9). He knew that he would once again stand in the land of the living, because salvation comes from the Lord. Seventeenth-century preacher Thomas Watson once observed, after reading Job 22:21 - "Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace, thereby good shall come unto thee" (KJV) - that "No man did ever come off a loser by his acquaintance with God." [20]

 

Seventeenth-century preacher Thomas Watson once observed, after reading Job 22:21
PHOTO: Seventeenth-century preacher Thomas Watson once observed, after reading Job 22:21 - "Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace, thereby good shall come unto thee" (KJV) - that "No man did ever come off a loser by his acquaintance with God."
Picture posted by @nira014
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While Jonah was discovering these wonderful truths in the fish belly deep below, the sailors in the ship above were already doing what Jonah was promising God: worshipping the Lord and offering Him sacrifices (Jonah 1:16). Above water and deep below, God was at work saving the pagan sailors as well as the fleeing prophet.

 

While Jonah was discovering these wonderful truths in the fish belly deep below, the sailors in the ship above were already doing what Jonah was promising God: worshipping the Lord and offering Him sacrifices (Jonah 1:16).
PHOTO: While Jonah was discovering these wonderful truths in the fish belly deep below, the sailors in the ship above were already doing what Jonah was promising God: worshipping the Lord and offering Him sacrifices (Jonah 1:16).  Above water and deep below, God was at work saving the pagan sailors as well as the fleeing prophet.
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How can we demonstrate the truth that Christ is the only Saviour in our daily lives?
Suffering: Moulded in God's Hands [2]
In his dying moments, Jonah remembered that God was never far away: "When my life was ebbing away, I remember you, Lord, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple" (Jonah 2:7). And when he examined the direct causes of his suffering - the raging sea and powerful winds - he saw God's hand. He talked to God about "your waves and breakers" (Jonah 2:3) and acknowledged that it was God ("you", Jonah 2:3) who had hurled him into the deep.



In his dying moments, Jonah remembered that God was never far away
PHOTO: In his dying moments, Jonah remembered that God was never far away: "When my life was ebbing away, I remember you, Lord, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple" (Jonah 2:7). Jonah acknowledged that it was God ("you", Jonah 2:3) who had hurled him into the deep.
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Sometimes, our sufferings are inexplicable and we have great difficulty finding any meaning or purpose behind our pain and trials. It is possible that Satan has a direct hand in our sufferings - as in the case of Job - but we can take comfort in the fact that he is always restrained by God and cannot do anything without God's permission (Job 1:12; 2:6). In such trials, we can be reassured that while Satan has a hand, God has the upper hand.



It is possible that Satan has a direct hand in our sufferings
PHOTO: It is possible that Satan has a direct hand in our sufferings - as in the case of Job - but we can take comfort in the fact that he is always restrained by God and cannot do anything without God's permission (Job 1:12; 2:6). In such trials, we can be reassured that while Satan has a hand, God has the upper hand.
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At other times, however, we suffer when we disobey God.

In a series of lectures on Romans, church reformer Martin Luther observes how God allows us to undergo suffering and trials to create depth in our lives: [18]

He thrusts us into death and permits the devil to pounce on us. But it is not his purpose to devour us; he wants to test us, to purify us, and to manifest himself ever more to us, that we may recognize his love. Such trials and strife are to let us experience something that preaching alone is not able to do, namely, how powerful Christ is and how sincerely the Father loves us. So our trust in God and our knowledge of God will increase more and more, together with our praise and thanks for his mercy and blessing. Otherwise we would bumble along with our early, incipient faith. We would become indolent, unfruitful and inexperience Christians, and would soon grow rusty.

 

He thrusts us into death and permits the devil to pounce on us.
PHOTO: He thrusts us into death and permits the devil to pounce on us. But it is not his purpose to devour us; he wants to test us, to purify us, and to manifest himself ever more to us, that we may recognize his love. Such trials and strife are to let us experience something that preaching alone is not able to do, namely, how powerful Christ is and how sincerely the Father loves us.
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That God may ultimately be behind our sufferings and setbacks can be a sobering thought. But it can also be a comforting truth, because we know that He is testing and purifying us in the process. And we know that He is also merciful.

This was what King David found after he had sinned against God by counting his troops (2 Samuel 24:1-17). His general Joab advised him against it, but David sent him and other military commanders to enlist and count the troops. They took almost 10 months to do so, and came back to report 1.3 million able bodied men were available. It was at this point that David became "conscience-stricken" (2 Samuel 24:10); he knew he had sinned against God. By counting his men, he had fallen into the temptation of thinking that the size of his army lay behind his strength and success. He had forgotten his previous experiences ("The Lord gave David victory wherever he went", 2 Samuel 8:6, 14) and the words of his own song: "It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure" (2 Samuel 22:33).



King David sinned against God by counting his troops (2 Samuel 24:1-17).
PHOTO: King David sinned against God by counting his troops (2 Samuel 24:1-17). His general Joab advised him against it, but David sent him and other military commanders to enlist and count the troops.
Picture posted by Florida Center for Instructional Technology - David Instructing Joab to Number the People

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The Lord sent the prophet Gad to David with three possible punishments for his disobedience and lack of trust: three years of famine, three months of fleeing from his enemies, or three days of plague. David's reply - "I am in deep distress. Let us fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercy is great; but do not let me fall into human hands" (2 Samuel 24:14) - showed a deep level of trust in God: he would rather place himself in God's hands (plague) than in the hands of nature (famine) or men (attack by his enemies).



The Lord sent the prophet Gad to David with three possible punishments for his disobedience and lack of trust
PHOTO: The Lord sent the prophet Gad to David with three possible punishments for his disobedience and lack of trust: three years of famine, three months of fleeing from his enemies, or three days of plague. David  showed a deep level of trust in God: he would rather place himself in God's hands (plague) than in the hands of nature (famine) or men (attack by his enemies).
David Instructing Joab to Number the People - An Angel goes Forth to Smite the Land

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David realised that being in the hands of God was the safest place, even while God was punishing him for his disobedience. He remembered that God's hands - even when judging and meting out punishment - were connected to God's merciful heart. Sure enough, after thousands of people had died from the plague, "the Lord relented" and told the angel meting out the punishment, "Enough! Withdraw your hand" (2 Samuel 24:16). David had done the right thing in putting himself and his people into God's hands, even if it was for a painful time of corrective discipline.



David realised that being in the hands of God was the safest place, even while God was punishing him for his disobedience.
PHOTO: David realised that being in the hands of God was the safest place, even while God was punishing him for his disobedience. He remembered that God's hands - even when judging and meting out punishment - were connected to God's merciful heart.
Picture posted by Smashing Blogger on 13 June 2013 - Lessons Learned at the Threshing Floor of Araunah  the Jebusite

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Jonah must have felt the same way. He took comfort in the fact that God was orchestrating his suffering. After all, it was God's storm, God's waves, and God's fish. The prophet saw the hands of God in all his troubles - which were the result of his own act of disobedience - and acknowledged God's discipline and mercy. True enough, what appeared to be a punishment also turned out to be salvation: the fish that God sent to swallow Jonah also saved the prophet from drowning and provided his safe transport to dry land (Jonah 2:10). Only when Jonah repented did he realise that there was still hope for him. In the hands of God, the waves and the monstrous fish were not only instruments of discipline, but also of salvation - they were the tools of a merciful God.


 
What appeared to be a punishment also turned out to be salvation
PHOTO: What appeared to be a punishment also turned out to be salvation: the fish that God sent to swallow Jonah also saved the prophet from drowning and provided his safe transport to dry land (Jonah 2:10).
Picture posted by Los Angeles County Museum of Art - Jonah Thrown to the Whale
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https://veryfatoldman.blogspot.com/2018/12/reflection-god-saves-non-practising.html



This is how God often works. When we suffer (whether because of our own foolishness or the malice and sinfulness of others), we need to recognise God's hand in the midst of our suffering. We can pray to the Lord, from whose holy hands no force can pluck us away, as the Lord Jesus promised in John 10:28-30. And we can trust God even when we are at the receiving end of His discipline, because He will act to save us from what might appear to be a hopeless situation.

 

When we suffer (whether because of our own foolishness or the malice and sinfulness of others), we need to recognise God's hand in the midst of our suffering.
PHOTO: When we suffer (whether because of our own foolishness or the malice and sinfulness of others), we need to recognise God's hand in the midst of our suffering. We can trust God even when we are at the receiving end of His discipline, because He will act to save us from what might appear to be a hopeless situation.
Picture posted by hatem lahbib on 09 June 2018

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That is why Jonah could pray, "I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple" (Jonah 2:4). After he faced the facts of his punishment, he could look to God for deliverance.



Only when Jonah repented did he realise that there was still hope for him. In the hands of God

PHOTO: Only when Jonah repented did he realise that there was still hope for him. In the hands of God, the waves and the monstrous fish were not only instruments of discipline, but also of salvation - they were the tools of a merciful God.
Picture posted by Los Angeles County Museum of Art - Jonah Spat Up by the Whale

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Dear Lord, Please help us to think about how to apply the lessons that Jonah learned from being in the fish's belly.
PHOTO: Dear Lord, Please help us to think about how to apply the lessons that Jonah learned from being in the fish's belly. To deliberately go against God, means disobedience, and that also means to run away from His instructions which will have its dire consequences. One cannot run away from God successfully.

We need the continuous protection of our Lord to keep us safe from the dangers of nature. Because of the fearful things and events that we might face, could actually bring us closer to God. We desperately need His help, especially when encountering dangerous situations.

Whenever in our deepest gloom, we need God to be with us. We can pray to God, as other helps are not always available. But He is always with us.

We need God whom we can trust and rely upon. In dangerous situations, our urgent prayers need His response. And we can trust God because He will act to save us from what might appear to be a hopeless situation.

The only way to be saved is to accept His offer of Salvation, and to enter into a relationship with Him. To place our trust in idols is foolish because only God alone can save us. We could pray for His wrath not to come upon us, but for His Holy Spirit to come and help all of us to accept the offer of Salvation, so that we can have joy and real rest together with Him forever.

We learn that suffering gets our attentions, forcing us to look to God when we would otherwise ignore Him. Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.

Lord, we need your help to overcome our short-sightedness. We are unable to see the blessings that await us because we are too bogged down by pain. We should not forget that our present pain is light in comparison to the weight of glory that awaits us if we faithfully persist. Our suffering will not last forever; it is only for the moment, and it will be replaced by a glory that lasts for eternity.

Help us not to have one-sidedness: We see things from the perspective of this world. We see only the gnarled knots on one side of a tapestry, believing that our lives are full of meaningless pain and tragedy; we do not realise that one day, when we stand before the Lord, the tapestry will be turned to the other side, revealing God's workmanship of grace and mercy. Then we will see that all the gnarled knots and crossed threads on this side of life were being used by God to produce something beautiful.

We could help others who are suffering by acquainting them with Him, and be at peace, because good shall come unto us. No man did ever come off a loser by his acquaintance with God.

It is possible that Satan has a direct hand in our sufferings. We can take comfort in the fact that he is always restrained by God and cannot do anything without God's permission. We can be reassured that while Satan has a hand, God has the upper hand.

When we suffer (whether because of our own foolishness or the malice and sinfulness of others), we need to recognise God's hand in the midst of our suffering. We can pray to the Lord, from whose holy hands no force can pluck us away, as the Lord Jesus promised in John 10:28-30. And we can trust God even when we are at the receiving end of His discipline.

Through Lord Jesus Christ we pray. Amen!


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Reflection - Jonah Prays, God Delivers - Lessons from troubles and suffering
Question from source (book): "God in Pursuit", Chapter 4, Question 3, Page 61.
By Robert M. Solomon, Bishop of the Methodist Church in Singapore from 2000 - 2012





Also from the same author, Robert M. Solomon

"Faithful to the end", A Preacher's Exposition of 2 Timothy, @ 2014 by Robert M. Solomon


'Faithful to the end', A Preacher's Exposition of 2 Timothy, @ 2014 by Robert M. Solomon<br>
Reflection - Faithful to the end (Links)
https://veryfatoldman.blogspot.com/2017/06/reflection-faithful-to-end-links.html



"Finding rest for the soul" Responding to Jesus' Invitation in Matthew 11:28-29,
© 2016 by Robert M. Solomon

Reflection - Finding rest for the soul (Links)
Reflection - Finding rest for the soul (Links)
https://veryfatoldman.blogspot.com/2018/10/reflection-finding-rest-for-soul-links.html



Reference
[1] From "God in Pursuit" Lessons from the Book of Jonah, Copyright © 2017 by Robert M. Solomon, ISBN 978-1-62707-801-6, Part II: Jonah 2:1-10, Chapter 4 "Jonah Prays, God Delivers", Page 58-61.

[2] From "God in Pursuit" Lessons from the Book of Jonah, Copyright © 2017 by Robert M. Solomon, ISBN 978-1-62707-801-6, Part II: Jonah 2:1-10, Chapter 4 "Jonah Prays, God Delivers", Page 55-58.

[3]
From "God in Pursuit" Lessons from the Book of Jonah, Copyright © 2017 by Robert M. Solomon, ISBN 978-1-62707-801-6, Part II: Jonah 2:1-10, Chapter 4 "Jonah Prays, God Delivers", Page 50-51.

[16] Philip Yancey, Where Is God When It Hurts? (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1977), 58.

[17] C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain (New York: HarperCollins, 1940/1996), 91.

[18] Tylan Dalrymple, "The Means of Grace from the Perspective of War", Table Talk 17, no. 2 (May 2010).

[19] Warren W. Wiersbe and Lloyd M. Perry Wycliffe, Handbook of Preaching and Preachers (Chicago: Moody Press, 1984), 223.

[20] Thomas Watson, All Things For Good, chapter 3, 2.3, http://www.the-highway.com/Divine_Cordial3.html.


New International Version (NIV), Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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Jonah 2:8, 9 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Jonah+2%3A8%2C9&version=NIV

Jonah 2:9 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Jonah+2%3A9&version=NIV

Jonah 2:10 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Jonah+2%3A10&version=NIV

Matthew 11:28-29 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+11%3A28-29&version=NIV

Romans 8:28 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans+8%3A28&version=NIV