A few nights ago, a friend called for some advice regarding her teenage daughter’s misbehavior. We discussed how my friend could address her daughter’s heart issues and which natural consequences could be appropriate for the situation. Near the end of the conversation, my friend commented on how she was realizing she shouldn’t be angry with her daughter, but rather she needed to see this as an opportunity to discipline, or train, her teen with the intention of teaching her daughter the right way to go. Compassion trumped frustration.
Jonah knew that the Lord disciplines those He loves in order to teach and correct the wayward. God told Jonah to go to Ninevah. Jonah refused. God sent a storm and a large fish to redirect Jonah. Jonah then obeyed. Jonah, a very real man with a very real experience, found himself in the deep under the discipline of the Lord:
“For You had cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the current engulfed me. All your breakers and billows passed over me. So I said, ‘I have been expelled from Your sight. . .’ Water encompassed me to the point of death. The great deep engulfed me. Weeds were wrapped around my heard. I descended to the roots of the mountains. The earth with its bars was around me forever” (Jonah 2: 3-6).
Have you ever been able to describe yourself like that? I have. It sure isn’t pretty . . . in despair, in the dark, in the deep. But, in that very place, God is found. Jonah declared,
“I called out of my distress to the Lord, and He answered me. I cried for help from the depth of Sheol; You heard my voice . . . But You have brought up my life from the pit, O Lord my God. . . Salvation is from the Lord” (Jonah 2: 2,6,9).
God may have you in the deep. He may be correcting you, training you, redirecting you. But, He has taken you there, so you will find Him there. Like Jonah, will you say,“While I was fainting away, I remembered the Lord, and my prayer came to You, into Your holy temple” (Jonah 2:7)? The discipline of His child is not a curse, it is a mercy; He knows the direction you have been going, and He knows a better way. It is His kindness that leads you in the way you should go, because although “all discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful, yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness” (Hebrews 12:11).
Peace. Righteousness. Deep down, dear Christian, isn’t that what you want?
The Lord disciplines, and He also delivers. Call out to the Lord for help, humble yourself before Him, and obey. Like Jonah, you will find Him—even in the deep.