The Redemptive Nature of God-Ordained Trials

Jonah 2:1-6 says – “Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the belly of the fish, “I called out to the LORD, out of my distress, 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 flood surrounded me; all your waves and your billows passed over me.” Then I said, ‘I am driven away from your sight; yet I shall again look upon your holy temple.’ The waters closed in over me to take my life; the deep surrounded me; weeds were wrapped about my head at the roots of the mountains. I went down to the land whose bars closed upon me forever; yet you brought up my life from the pit, O LORD my God.”

Now, in 2:1 we learn that Jonah prayed this prayer inside the belly of the fish, but when we look at the prayer it seems to show that Jonah got thrown overboard than cried for help while he was being tossed around in the water, and God in response to Jonah’s prayer sent the great fish to save Jonah’s life.  This means that God delivered Jonah’s life from death with something that normally would seem to be a disaster.  No sane person thinks getting eaten by a large fish is a good thing.  From a 1 – 10 disaster level list, Jonah has just experienced a 4,000!  This implies that God will sometimes cause a crisis in your life to bring you back to Himself.  Think about it, we read in 1:15 that the sailors threw Jonah overboard, but notice what Jonah says in 2:3?  “You cast me into the deep.”  Jonah believes God did this to him, and he’s right!

There are two ways to go with this: option 1 says, “God threw me into the ocean, therefore God is displeased with me and wants to kill me.”  Option 2 says, “God threw me into the ocean, therefore God wants to teach me something.”  Now, it may sound strange, but the Bible talks like this about our trials.  James 1:2-4, “Count it all joy when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”  Psalm 119:71 says, “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn Your statutes.”  Psalm 119:75 says, “I know O’ Lord, that Your rules are righteous, and that in faithfulness You have afflicted me.” 

These verses teach us that Jonah’s trial with the boat, the sea, and the fish, were from God, for his good.  Don’t think that God hates you because He allows bad things happen to you – God knows what He’s doing, trust Him and know that when God is brings us trials, and though these trials may not be good, He is always working for our good, and bringing us closer to Himself.  Jonah sinned, that was his fault – God responded to his sin and brought a trial into his life, for his benefit.  For the Christian, trials are redemptive, not punishment because God will always bring us out of them better than before.  Psalm 66:10-12 says, “For You O’ God have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried.  You brought us into the net; you laid a crushing burden on our backs; you let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water; yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance.”

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