Sufferings and private struggles have “spiritual significance.” The Christian life is not a picnic or a walk in the park, rather with it comes certain difficulties, perplexities, and disappointments. If we seek to escape from the sufferings of Christ, we are going to cut the very vitals of our spiritual worth-whileness. Take heed to that. We have to accept the fact that, being the Lord’s here, our inheritance is an inheritance of the sufferings of Christ, and we must not seek to avoid them.” T. Austin-Sparks.
Sometimes, God’s call upon one’s life automatically sets you on course for trials and tribulations. I think of Jonah who was called by God to deliver a message to the people of Nineveh. God’s command was, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.” But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. Jonah 1:2 -3a (ESV). Jonah is not alone in this because, in our own Christian walk and experience we sometimes find ourselves not heeding the commands of the Lord, and go in the opposite direction of God’s commands.
Now, what befell Jonah because of his act of disobedience was extra-ordinary. Being swallowed by a big fish is no laughing matter. And to imagine that he was in the belly of the fish for 3 days and 3 nights; close to death before he finally calls out to God. Read Jonah 2:1-10 (ESV). Beloved, in your time of affliction, trials, tribulation, be quick and immediately to call out to God – Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the belly of the fish, saying, “I called out to the Lord, out of my distress, and He answered me; out of the belly of Sheol[a place of darkness where people descend at death], I cried, and You heard my voice.” Brothers and sisters, Jonah was drowning, and in the midst of his struggle, he was able to muster the strength to cry out to God. This is very important to note because, at times of deep and private or personal struggles, we ought to be clear-eyed and know to whom we should call out to – the Lord.
Think with me for a moment, Jonah was hurled overboard, and the Bible says, “Now the Lord had arranged for a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was inside the fish for three days and three nights.” Read Jonah 1:17 (NLT). Can you see this? Who arranged the great fish? God did. So sometimes beloved, our private or personal struggles can be as a result of God using those afflictions to bring correction and stopping one from going astray.
Oh, you might be saying Ricky, there is no Biblical evidence to suggest this. Really? Look at this, “The punishment you gave me was the best thing that could have happened to me, for it taught me to pay attention to Your laws – word. They are more valuable to me than millions in silver and gold.” Read Psalm 119:71-72 (TLB). Oh, my God, this is too much! Right there in the Scriptures!!
Beloved, never ever think or be in doubt that God does not hear your voice. The Bible says, “You are so intimately aware of me, Lord. You read my heart like an open book and you know all the words I’m about to speak before I even start a sentence! You know every step I will take before my journey even begins.” Read Psalm 139:4 (TPT). Beloved, this is why I keep saying, “God knows, God sees, God hears.”
So how did Jonah end up? The Bible says, “And the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land.” Read Jonah 2:7,10 (ESV). Beloved, God is with you right in the midst and closer than you can imagine.
We write. You read. Be encouraged.