Imagine spending three days and nights in stomach acid. The acid would bleach and wrinkle your skin. It might make your hair fall out. It would be difficult to breathe because of the smell and heat. You would probably pass out, if not die, in such a place. This is where Jonah was, deep inside the stomach of a great fish, getting what he deserved for his disobedience against God.
But something happened to Jonah in the fish’s belly. As he lay in the slime and digestive juices, the Bible tells us he humbled himself before God and prayed. He told God he would follow through on the promise he had made to Him at the beginning of his ministry. Now he was ready to go to Nineveh.
God heard Jonah’s prayer and caused the fish to vomit him back on land. This acid-bleached prophet went on to preach a message which influenced the entire city of Nineveh to be saved. God wasn’t through with Jonah just because he failed Him the first time. He gave him a second chance, and this time Jonah got it right.
God punishes us for our sins, but He is still merciful. After we sin, He gives us time to humble ourselves and get our hearts right so that we’re ready to be used again. This is why the disciplinary measures He uses when we sin are sometimes so severe. He wants us to see the pain of choosing our own way so that we will choose His way, which is best.
You may have experienced the harsh consequences of running from God. You were put on church discipline; you had a child out of wedlock; you lost all of your money because of loose living; your health has been ruined; an accident has crippled you. Take the opportunity to humble yourself before God, and commit yourself anew to His service. He wants to use you again. He’s not through with you yet.
Devotional by Dr. James A. Scudder