by Ann Musico
(Wallkill, NY, USA)
Jonah 3:1-3 NLT "Then the Lord spoke to Jonah a second time: Get up and go to the great city of Ninevah, and deliver the message of judgment I have given you. This time Jonah obeyed the Lord's command..."
What an incredibly encouraging portion of scripture this is! Jonah ignored the Lord's command the first time. How many times do we hear deep within our spirits that we should (or shouldn't!) do a certain thing and just ignore or overlook it? Many times we find out later exactly why we got that warning and must pay the consequences for neglecting to pay attention.
Haven't we all experienced that awful feeling that we've blown it big time. We were warned - we just didn't listen. It's too late now. But, God.
Those are the two best words you can imagine. But, God...always gives us second chances, and third and fourth and however many it takes to finally "get it." He is so generous and so gracious. That is not to say we may not have to pay the consequences for disobeying the first time. But He doesn't just give up on us as we so often do ourselves.
Jonah out and out disobeyed. In fact, he ran in the opposite direction! (Sound familiar to anyone?) God did not just wash His hands of him and find someone else to do the job. No. He pursued him and gave him another chance to obey. To his credit Jonah did and fulfilled the call on his life.
Jonah wasn't the only one to experience God's grace in this way. Think about Peter who denied Christ three times. Couldn't God have just said - that's too much, he's gone too far? Sure He could have, but He didn't. He called all His disciples and gave a special, personal invitation to Peter
to make sure He knew he was forgiven. He gave him a second chance.
What about Saul? He persecuted Christians. He went so far as to hold the cloaks of those who were stoning Stephen. Surely God couldn't use this man who was an accessory to murder? But He gave him another chance and Saul became Paul and wrote much of the New Testament!
Do you feel like you've blown it? Think it's hopeless? Feel like you've gone too far and God couldn't possibly forgive you or use you? Think again. God is the God of second chances...and third...and fourth! He doesn't give up on us.
If you're wondering what this has to do with health and how science and scripture agree - research shows the emotion most destructive to your health is hopelessness! People who ate properly, exercised and were not overweight developed diabetes solely when they felt hopelessness for an extended period of time. The same is true of some cancer patients. One of the most stress-inducing emotions is a sense of helplessness. Believing you have messed up beyond repair and there's no turning back and nothing you can do.
Don't fall for that lie! God is always present and His desire is always to redeem you, bring you back, renew your hope. Remember, scripture tells us 3 things will remain - faith, hope and love. While love is the greatest, it is intimately related to faith (faith works by love), faith must have something to connect to and that is hope! Never, never, ever lose hope! That's a command straight from the Father and He always knows best.
Is there some area of your life that is causing you to feel hopeless or helpless? Do you find it is negatively affecting your health? Meditate on the words “But, God.” How does that make you feel?