Every year, as we enter into the Christmas season, I am reminded of all of those who are going through the tough stuff of life and are just having a hard time with all the cheer and peace that comes with Christmas. This year it has come in the form of two families: one 3 year old very recently diagnosed with stage 3 cancer where things don't look very good, and one gentleman who just passed away yesterday from liver cancer. Both families are going through such immeasurable pain and hardships right now, and as I am hearing the Christmas music and seeing all of the smiles and excitement, I can't help but think of them and wonder how they are doing through it all. My heart literally breaks for them, and I can't imagine going through what they are, especially during this season.
Jonah is one of my favorite stories in the Bible only because Jonah is so real and I can relate to him so much. Not only does he run away from God when he is asked to do something difficult (don't we all try to do that, even though it seems completely silly considering God is everywhere?), but then he also tells God exactly how he feels once he surrenders himself to go do what God asks him. I am sure that we all can see ourselves in Jonah, as silly as his actions seem.
Jonah finds himself in the belly of the whale. And as he is sitting there alone with his thoughts and God, it says "When I had lost all hope, I turned my thoughts again towards God" (Jonah 2:7). It makes me wonder why it had to take so many bad things and so much time for Jonah to realize that he was desperate for God. But then again, aren't we all that way. When the going is good, we forget God. Sure we might thank him occasionally for blessing us and that we aren't one of "those people who are suffering", but we don't rely on him on a moment-to-moment basis. It is only when we are going through the most terrible things, when we are in the belly of the whale and there is no hope, that we finally turn our thoughts towards God and start to rely on him.
In a recent study that I am doing called Spiritual Parenting by Michelle Anthony, she made the comment that you are blessed when you are suffering, not because of what you are going through, but because of how your relationship with God becomes so real and authentic and desperate for him that you rely completely on God. So as I think about those two families, praying for them every time they enter my thoughts, I also pray that they rely on God with that desperate faith that we all should, even when we aren't in the belly of the whale.
"Cast all your anxiety onto him, for he cares for you" (1 Peter 5:7)