The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?
Perspective. Adversity is one thing in life that enables us to see things in perspective. When we lose our health, we begin to realise how blessed we were just to be fully able. When we lose wealth that we were so accustomed to, we realise how rich we were once and how we may have never truly taken to putting it to best use. When we go through a time of deep depression, what wouldn’t we give to be able to taste a moment of peace in our soul, one more time..? Peace we once failed to even notice.
When people come out of a season of affliction, when all that was once lost is restored, life seems far more brighter than before, even if all that we have, is no more than what we once did. Take the life of Jonah, for instance. In Jonah 2, we read of his prayer to God from the belly of the fish. As he concludes, there is one line that captures my attention.
But I with the voice of thanksgiving
will sacrifice to you;
Making a sacrifice, in order to serve someone else, isn’t something which comes easy to us. Our desires tend to take us on our own way, and to let go of that desire and instead spend on another, what we believe is ours – whether it be money, energy or time – isn’t something we readily do. And even if we do, how many times would we find ourselves doing it with ‘the voice of thanksgiving..?’
And that wasn’t what Jonah found himself doing either. In fact, he wasn’t even willing to serve God, at the beginning of this tale, let alone with ‘the voice of thanksgiving.’ Jonah turned his back on God, when he was called to serve Him, by being His spokesman in Nineveh.
The storm. Being castaway. The fish. We know what followed and that Jonah eventually found himself standing on the shore, heading toward Nineveh. But somewhere in between, we find the heart of this man transformed from that of one who thought it a burden to serve God and fled His presence, to one who willed to serve Him with ‘the voice of thanksgiving.’
When I was a child, when I was told of the story of Jonah, I always believed that this was the tale of a lesser man. I mean, if God calls me to serve Him, I would readily walk the path where I am lead, I thought. ‘What was Jonah thinking..? He must’ve been one big fool to turn his back on God.’ But it’s only as I’ve grown in faith, could I see that the tale of Jonah isn’t the tale of a lesser man, but of a man much like me.
How many times, when God has called me to serve Him with what I have, have I chosen to flee His presence..? How many times have I thought that what I have, is mine to use for my own pleasures, and to use it in His service, is to waste. Perspective. The right one, wasn’t something I had.
In the belly of the fish, Jonah who was almost stripped of all that he had, including his life, had time for contemplation. With his heart desiring a second chance to rejoice in all that he previously had, Jonah could see that all that he had were never in his power to either take or hold, but were given to him from God above. Jonah’s heart was transformed, from someone who believed it wasn’t worth to serve God, to a man who could see how grateful he ought to be to be able to.
Perspective. Jonah gained this, through the adversity in his life. I pray, that it is something I will gain through the adversity in mine, to serve the Lord with a voice of thanksgiving….
How would your life look, if you had the pen that writes the lines of your life, in your hand..? If you had the chance to change the things that came within the sphere of your existence, would you have diligently chosen all that you’re living, or have lived out..?
Lines though keep getting written without us wielding the pen. Would we ever write lines of darkness..? Would we ever write lines of fear..? Would we ever write lines of pain..? But there are times, when all these are just the passage to something far more desirable. If I had it in my power, I would never have written those lines in the pages of my life. But I thank God, the pen isn’t in my hand….
There are times when the road to Paradise, takes you through a vale of Hell.