And we know 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
I am going through a Bible study on the book of Jonah by Priscilla Shirer that has been excellent. We all think of Jonah and the Whale – or as the Bible puts it, a big fish. Some think that being swallowed by the fish was Jonah’s punishment for running from God’s purpose for him, but stop and think about it for a moment. What would have happened had the fish not swallowed Jonah?
A huge storm was brewing and the sea was full of rough and dangerous waves. The sailors were so frightened that they were throwing valuable cargo overboard to lighten the ship’s load. Have you ever watched the Deadliest Catch on the Discovery Channel? If you have you know that a storm at sea is nothing to sneeze at. It’s brutal and from the looks of it, very terrifying. These were experienced sailors and still they were frightened. When Jonah was thrown into that raging sea, what would have happened if there had been no fish to swallow him? He would have drowned.
Consider this: the big fish was God’s grace for Jonah for without it, he would have surely perished. Was it pleasant? No! It was smelly, acidic, dark, and suffocating. There Jonah remained for 3 days until he was vomited out onto dry land. Can you imagine? Perhaps God’s grace is not always pleasant. For Jonah it wasn’t.
There are others who have endured hardship in order that the grace of God could be shown to someone. Joseph was sold into slavery, but God used it to show grace to the children of Israel during a great famine. Moses was separated from his mother and raised by Pharaoh’s daughter. This saved his life and he was later able to lead the Israelites out of slavery. Once again, God’s grace manifested to man. Esther was hauled off to the palace by order of the king and made to be part of the king’s harem. Yet God used her to save his people. God’s grace was again given for man. Mary was asked to carry a child out-of-wedlock. She was looked down upon by all of society and ran the risk of being stoned for infidelity. Yet she endured it all so that God’s grace could be shown to you and me.
What difficult circumstance do you find yourself in right now? It may be just the hard knocks of life, but it may also turn out to be used by God to show grace to someone. It may turn out far better than you can even imagine right now. Put yourself in Joseph’s shoes or Esther’s shoes. How would you have felt being taken to a place you did not want to go? How often we forget that Joseph and Esther, and the many others in the Bible, didn’t know what the final outcome of their trial would be. I encourage you to trust God through your trial. After all, when the dust settles, there may be one grand surprise awaiting you!