Lessons from Jonah: Where Are You Looking?
“Then I said, ‘I have been cast out of Your sight; Yet I will look again toward Your holy temple.’”
Be careful what you wish for. As Jonah learned, you might get it! After being thrown overboard by his shipmates, Jonah now concludes that even God has tossed him out of sight. The man that wanted nothing more than to be free of God’s will is now forced to deal with His wrath. As E.B. Pusey writes, “Jonah had willfully withdrawn from standing in God’s presence. Now God had taken him at his word, and, as it seemed, cast him out of it.”
Of course, the situation was not quite as it seemed. God hadn’t actually abandoned Jonah, but for three miserable days, it sure felt like it! As he prayed earnestly from the stomach of his ingester, signs that God was even listening were in short supply. Perhaps Jonah knows best of all what it’s like to be “down in the mouth!”
Looking in the Right Direction
Regardless of what we face, the cross offers hope.
Facing extraordinary circumstances and profound discouragement, Jonah felt sure God had abandoned him. But even in these dire circumstances, Jonah’s prayer contained a glimmer of hope: “Yet I will look again toward Your holy temple.” From a place where God seemed absent, Jonah looked to the temple in Jerusalem where God’s presence reigned and where atonement was made for sins such as his.
For the New Testament saint, we don’t look toward a gold-adorned temple, but a blood-stained cross. Regardless of what we face or why we face it, the cross offers hope. When our sins seem big and God’s presence is hard to feel, we can look toward Calvary and find comfort in the redemption Christ accomplished there. Jonah felt abandoned by God, and so did Christ as He prayed, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Mark 15:34). Because of Christ, this is a question we’ll never have to ask.
Feel up to a challenge? Consider memorizing Jonah! Scripture Memory Fellowship has a great program to help you learn all 48 verses in 16 weeks. Click here to check it out.