Do you know you are precious to God? Do you know you are unique? God loves you! He chose you, set you aside, and knows all your difficulties! He is bigger than anything you face. If you feel like you do not matter and the World hates you, you are not alone. I have felt that way. I have been hurt by life. I have been down and broken. Many people including prophets and disciples have felt unloved, disconnected, or broken. Jonah was one of the chosen biblical people loved by God. Even when he disobeyed and tried to hide from the Lord, God still loved him. God loves us! All of us are not worthy of God’s love, not one of us, but the Lord gives his love to us anyway. A biblical illustration includes Jonah and the people of Nineveh who were disobeying God. However, God showed his love for Jonah, the Ninevites and animals he had created when the people repented and asked God for forgiveness.
Jonah’s path was a story of God’s grace and benevolence to Jonah and the great city of Nineveh. Jonah was commissioned by God to proclaim to the people of Nineveh that in forty days the city would be overthrown. Jonah went off to hide from God running to Tarshish. He got on a boat and a great storm came. The men on board asked Jonah to repent to his Lord that they all might be saved. Jonah told the men to throw him overboard, because the storm was his fault. He was thrown overboard by the sailors. The men became afraid and feared the Lord because they had thrown Jonah overboard. The sailors made sacrifice to the Lord in repentance. The storm calmed and Jonah fell down into the deep darkness of the water. A great fish swallowed Jonah. He was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. The fish eventually throws him up on the shore. Being puked from the belly of a fish seems pretty unloved and disconnected. I would say that was broken and reeking! Ewww!
Again God calls to Jonah to go to Niveveh and tell them that God is going to destroy them. He goes to and through Niveveh for three days proclaiming the destruction. The king heard the news and covered himself with sackcloth and sat in the dirt. The dirt was probably to cover the fish smell. He decreed that both the people and animals could not eat or drink. He also told the people to cover themselves and animals with sackcloth. The king also impressed upon the people to call urgently on God and hopefully he would relent from his anger and have compassion on the people of Nineveh. God saw the Ninevites repentance and relented, not destroying them as he had threatened.
Jonah was angry at the Lord’s compassion and wanted to die. Jonah went outside the city, built a shelter and waited to see what would happen to the city. The Lord provided a leafy plant to grow up and give Jonah shade. Jonah enjoyed the plant and shade provided to him from God. Then the next day God provided a worm that ate the plant causing the plant to wither and die. Jonah grew faint from the heat and angry the plant had died. God explained to Jonah that the plant’s life and death were important to Jonah even though he did not plant or tend the plant. Jonah was so angry he wanted to die again. God continued to expound on the concern he had for the Ninevites. There were more than one hundred twenty thousand people and their animals. The grace and benevolence God showed to the great city of Niveveh is the same grace he shows to each and every one of us. God loved his people and the animals he created. He loved Jonah.
God chooses us in all our imperfections. He made us and is continually perfecting us through his love and grace. None of us are worthy to be given such a great gift, but God provides the mercy and the grace. God said to Moses: “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion” (Rom. 9: 15 New International Version). The hope and peace that we receive is from a relationship with God. The acceptance of Christ opens the door to finding a relationship of hope and peace with God. Scripture affirms the type of relationship we can have: “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our LORD Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1 New International Version). The hope lies in the acceptance: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death” (Rom. 8:1-2 New International Version). Through redemption, we can walk in peace and hope through Christ Jesus our Lord. The hope for a future is our salvation and joining of our Father in heaven. God made us worthy to be his child through his son Jesus. I thank God for his grace and the gift of his son, Jesus.
Everyone needs salvation to have a relationship with the Lord, but none of us are worthy without the grace and purpose of God. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our LORD” (Rom. 6-23 New International Version). Eternal life is a gift from God to humans through the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus. The king’s decrees and declaration to the people of Nineveh provided a second chance from God. Choices made in the flesh affect the consequences for the spirit. The provision of salvation was given in the offering God made of His son in the crucifixion of Christ, subsequent death, and resurrection. After Christ’s resurrection, He appeared to over “five hundred” people over the course of “forty days” (Acts 1:3; I Cor. 15:6 New International Version). That was a beautiful and tremendous gift to Jesus’ disciples and the inspiration for their continued faith and teachings. The resurrection sightings have been one of my favorite cool events in the Bible. I am straight up jealous I was not a disciple or one of the blessed “five hundred”. The resurrection sightings give me goosebumps. Awesome!
After Christ’s ascension, the disciples stood at the temple filled with joy praising God (Luke 24:52-53 New International Version). Today’s disciples have not been gifted with the presence of the resurrected Lord, but our joy should also be in the Lord. We should be praising God and thanking Him for the gift of salvation through our Lord, Jesus Christ and the daily blessings he provides to us.