For Jonah prayed unto the Lord his God out of the fish’s belly, (2) And said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the Lord, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice. (Jonah 2:1-2 KJV)
I remember going through the hardest, most darkest season in my life. God spoke these words to me. Aqua, you don’t get to choose how I get you to your purpose. He brought me to the book of Jonah and he asked. Do you think that Jonah would have ever chosen a great big fish as a vehicle to get him to where I called him? A lot of people may argue that Jonah caused his own afflictions in his life. By running from the call of God on his life. True, but for me that’s what makes Jonah so relatable. What makes him so human. It also shows me the patience and the provisions of God. How many of us can honestly say that God didn’t have to chase us down when he revealed just part of his purpose for us. For Jonah he tried to play hide and seek from God. Simply, because he felt that the people that God was sending him to was unworthy of the warning and therefore of the mercy of God. In many ways we are a lot like Jonah. No, we may not run from the call of God because we feel that the people he is sending us to is unworthy. However, we run from him when we feel unworthy or when we feel the call is to great on our lives. Like Jonah we play the game of hide and seek, but it’s impossible to hide from the God who sees all. So most of the time. God will use affliction in our lives to turn us where we need to be. Here is two of the things that God has taught me about afflictions and how he uses it in our lives. To draw us closer to him.
1.) Affliction causes us to cry out to God.
And said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the Lord, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice. (Jonah 2:2 KJV)
This is after the run, the hiding, the storm and being tossed overboard. Now Jonah finds himself in the belly of a great fish. Or as he puts it the belly of hell. Where now all he can do is pray. Jonah said something significant in this verse that I think that we should all catch a hold of. He said out of the belly of hell. I cried. Meaning he poured out his petition before God. He poured out his heart. He was in a place of affliction so that tells us. That when he cried out. He did so from a place of deep personal pain. Jonah also mentions and he heard me. That’s the part to get excited about right there. The fact that the Lord heard his cry. God heard the cry of the one who ran from the call. He heard the cry of the one whose affliction was self made. His affliction could have been avoided. Had he been obedient in the first place, but the truth of the matter is that he wasn’t obedient. That is good news for people like me. Who do not always get it right. It is good news for those of us who go in the opposite direction of where God told us to go. Jonah shows me that even in disobedience. Even in my affliction that God will hear me when I call. That we cannot run so far that God will not hear us when we call. In Psalm 34:15 scripture tells us that the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open to their cry. God considered Jonah to be righteous despite his faults. God’s word tells us that his ears is open to the cry of the righteous. A lot of times we feel as if God will not hear me if I mess up. A righteous person is not a person who never messes up. A righteous person is a person who puts their faith and their trust in God despite the fact that they mess up.
2.) We grow in affliction
But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were grieved because of the children of Israel. (Exodus 1:12 KJV)
Here it talks about when the children of Israel were in bondage to the Egyptians. When you go back and read verse 11 scripture tells us that they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with burdens. The reason why they did this was so that the Israelites would be brought so low. That they would begin to lose their strength. This affliction that the children of Israel was facing. Was different than that of Jonah because Jonah’s was self made, while the Israelites afflictions were brought on my someone or something else. Pharaoh feared that the Israelites were mightier than the Egyptians. So he set out to burden them in their tasks in order to weaken them. It’s the same way with our enemy. The devil fears that because we are children of God. That we are mightier than him. So he tries to bring us to a place where we are so burdened and so low that we forget who we are. Scripture however, tells us that the more they afflicted them. The more that they grew. We grow in our afflictions because its a tool that God uses to draw us closer to him. You see what Pharaoh never realized that while he was burdening them down. That they were crying out to God. Who heard them and I know God heard them because in Exodus 3:9 when God called a man named Moses. He told Moses behold the cry of the children of Israel is come to me. The Holy Spirit spoke to me in this. He said. Aqua, I gave my children the strength to endure. Until I sent the answer to their deliverance to them. Affliction may feel as though we are dying but God says to hold on. I am using that affliction to grow you. There’s lessons you learn in afflictions whether self made or imposed by something else. That we would have never learned had life been smooth sailing. We learn who God is in our afflictions. We learn that he is never far from us.
Here is something that God showed me about Jonah. All the time that Jonah was crying from that great fish’s belly. That great fish was transporting Jonah closer to where he needed to be. Our affliction is the vehicle that God uses to get us to our purpose. When Jonah was in that great fish. He had no idea where God was leading him. Sometimes, in our trials and our testing we have no idea where God is taking us. Just know that as you are praying. He is taking you exactly where you need to be.