“The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: ‘Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.’ But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord.”
Following God is not always easy.
It requires us to move past our own wants and desires. It means we have to change the way we think about and treat others. It means we will be pushed and challenged and moved out of our comfort zones.
Jonah knew this first hand.
God shows up and tells Jonah to go to the city of Ninevah and preach against it. Jonah decides he doesn’t want to go, buys a ticket on a boat and heads to the city of Tarshish instead – going in the exact opposite direction God told him to go.
Jonah had no desire to go to Nineveh.
It was a city that deep within Assyrian territory, making it a place no God-fearing Israelite would ever step foot. The Ninevites had turned away from God, embraced a life of sin and shame, and displayed their depravity on the street. Prostitutes, drug dealers, and thieves would line the streets waiting for business.
Nineveh was not the kind of place you visit to encounter God.
It was hot.
And sin was displayed on every corner.
So Jonah ran.
And bought a ticket for Tarshish.
And tried to get as far from Nineveh as possible.
Jonah’s journey took him away from the very place he needed to be.
God wasn’t in Tarshish. He wasn’t on the boat Jonah used to get away from Ninevah. He wasn’t found in the belly of the whale or the decision to head to Tarshish in the first place.
God called Jonah to go to Nineveh.
To a place of darkness and discomfort.
And had every intention of meeting with Jonah.
Once Jonah made his way to Nineveh, true healing and repentance began to happen.
Sometimes, the very thing we run from is the very place we’ll find God.
The hurts and pains of our past.
The job we despise working.
The school that seems to be destroying us.
The relationships that keep falling apart.
God is in them all, and calls us to endure a season of darkness so we can experience true healing.
And so, my brothers and sisters, as you face situations and conflicts you would rather run away from, may you be reminded that it is always darkest before the dawn. May you see that the hurts and pains you endure are producing a new level of healing in your life. And may you, as you journey into some dark places, find that God was there all along, working everything out for your good.
How could God be working in your areas of darkness to bring true healing?