Pick-Me-Up: Jonah Days

“And the Tide Rolls,” ©Lynn Abbott Studios. Used with Permission.

Jonah days.  L.M. Montgomery coined the term in her classic children’s series.

And if you’ve lived for any amount of time here on planet earth, you don’t even have to guess what she means by it.  You and I simply nod, knowingly.

After all, we’ve all had ’em.

Sometimes, life hits us tsunami-like.  At such times, I throw up my hands and cry, “I’ve had it! I’m not going to stand here and take this. I’m running away from home.”

And much like my five-year-old self, I wish to pack my Mary Poppins’ carpet bag with all the essentials, and make my escape.

Yup.  Definitely a Jonah day.

Recently, my heart broke as I watched someone close to me face an emotional tsunami.

You see, her brother died of lung cancer the year before last.  Six months later, her father died; the culprit this time was prostate cancer.

At the same time, her twenty something, middle son–having been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease–walked through major surgery and physical rehabilitation.  And early that same autumn, her mother died.

Then, as if to add insult to injury, her oldest son was diagnosed with lymphoma.

Jonah days…we’ve all had ’em.

Jonah day?  More like Jonah years.  In fact, it probably goes beyond old Jonah.  I think her situation might be slightly akin to Job’s. And like Job, she braves the storm.

I greatly admire her steadfast steps.  After all, if I were in her position, I’d probably start packing my knapsack.

Of course,  I do know that our heavenly Father is sovereign and that He directs all for our eventual good, (Romans 8:28).

But if I am completely honest, I have to admit that sometimes, while navigating my own Jonah days, I have whined just a tad from the back seat…

“Are we there yet?”

Truthfully?  I gotta admit that I have experienced the dead weight of fear and doubt.   Indeed, the road can seem treacherous and long; the path filled with obstacles and enemies.

At times like these, I certainly empathize with Jonah.

From a human perspective, Jonah’s fears and anger were justified; Ninevah, after all,  was a cruel culture that had more than once come against Israel.

If he followed God’s direction, Jonah would certainly preach to his nation’s enemies.  It was a dangerous call of duty. Thus, fear and anger filled Jonah.

He ran.

But he ran right into a horrendous headwind.

That’s actually the problem with running from God’s will.  In fear, you and I run heedlessly away from one set of problems to another.

Yeah, self-protection doesn’t work out very well.

When we seek to avoid the path God has placed before us, we not only encounter enormous waves but we face those tsunamis without the comfort of Abba’s hand.

“I do it myself” generally leads to bigger problems.

Yup.  Been there; done that.

Yet, despite my “runaway” tendencies, I do know better.

“I do it myself” generally leads to bigger problems.

Reading Jonah’s book, I see that fleeing from God placed the reluctant prophet in dangerous circumstances:  a storm threatened to capsize the ship on which Jonah had secured his self-protective passage.

In addition, Jonah traveled with people who were less than supportive. They were, in fact, most interested in protecting themselves.

And so it was.

The ship’s crew, in an attempt to save their own lives, drew lots to see who was responsible for their troubles. When the lot fell to Jonah, they readily threw him overboard.

But the “Hound of Heaven” followed His wayward child.  In love and grace, the Father hedges us even when we run.

Of course, it probably didn’t smell much like grace in the belly of the great fish.

But that is exactly what it was… Grace. Amazing.

Jonah’s panic had driven him deeper into the waves; he had attempted to drop Abba’s hand and find a human escape hatch.

Major fail.

However, God plucked Jonah from the sea and simultaneously arranged alternative transportation. God obviously had a plan for His runaway.

Sure, Ninevah presented an overwhelming task.  But Tarshish without Abba meant greater peril.

In this world, you and I will face tsunamis.  Most of us, at some time or another, will walk difficult and dangerous paths.

Waves crash; sharks circle.

But we can rest in this: Ninevah with Abba is safer than Tarshish on our own.

Indeed,  I am never safer than when Abba holds my hand.

“For Thou dost light my lamp; The LORD my God illumines my darkness. For by Thee I can run upon a troop; And by my God I can leap over a wall,” ~Psalm 18:28-29

67 thoughts on “Pick-Me-Up: Jonah Days

  1. I so needed this. I’m so sorry about your friend! Loved Psalm 18! It’s one of my favorites! I go to it often when I’m having “Jonah days!” I love where you say “Nineveh with Abba is safer than Tarshish on your own.” Amen!

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  2. I so love this Lynn! How many times have we lost ourselves in the process of trying to save us and do things our way. Like you, I have tried this tactic many times and I always found myself ‘down in the belly of the fish’. Running away from God always brings us further down as it shows in the case of Jonah. I have the tendency to think that I am smarter than I actually am most times. Time and time again, God has proved to me that my wisdom is utter foolishness. Now I am learning to simply trust Him with the process. I fail at this sometimes. However I am way better than I used to be. And my heart goes out to your friend. This post ties with a revelation I had yesterday. It’s 5.40am in England and I believe God led me here to confirm something He has been talking to me about. Blessings to you my sis.

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    • Hello, Efua! Oh, thank you for your beautiful comment! You are such an encouragement to me through your blog and now through these wise and transparent words that you have expressed here! And I’m so thankful that God used what I had to say to confirm what He has been showing you. What a privilege to be a part of that in some small way! Thank you for blessing me by sharing that! I pray God blesses you greatly, my dear sister in Christ! Hugs!

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  3. Jumping from the frying pan into the fire, been there, got the T-shirt. We are fragile, very fragile, but sometimes we forget how much we live in dependency and take for granted the normalcy of being surrounded by grace. Excellent reminder, thank you Lynn. Blessings!

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    • Thank you so much for your prayers for her, T.R.! That means the world to me! And yes… I need to remember to take Abba’s hand instead of panicking when I see the wind and the waves 😉 I so relate to Peter, (laughing at myself…) Love and huge hugs!

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  4. I’m so sorry for your friend, Lynn. Only grace can get one through such painful trials. I pray God will hold her up and give her strength. You have such a beautiful way of writing. I love this description of “Jonah Days.” I, too, have such an independent streak sometimes. I forget or ignore God’s stretched out hand – “I do it myself!” It’s such a comfort that God is so faithful and patient with us – “In love and grace, the Father hedges us even when we run.” I love your painting of the ocean! Thank you for all your encouragement in both your writing and painting! Love and hugs to you!

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    • Trudy, I am so grateful for your kind words and encouragement! I so admire and respect you. Your compassion also means so much to me! I am so glad that I “met” you here online! Your blog truly inspires me. God bless you big time! Love and hugs back! ❤

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  5. In our humanness, we want to “run away” – by God’s grace, we know to “run into our Father’s arms” – He’s got us covered. I have grieved and prayed for my friends during their times of grief. It’s real and it hurts and still…God’s grace and His love always sustain us. Our God is an awesome God. I will add my prayers to those of the others headed your way; for your friend and for you as you hurt with her. May God’s comfort continue to surround you both.

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    • Thank you with all my heart, Doris! Yes, I thought my own grief burdens were great, but then, I watched her heart break again and again. This world is full of grief, but thankfully we were meant for a better place. And in the meantime, I’m grateful to people like you who encourage and inspire me and others on this current path. God bless you greatly!

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  6. G’day, I am glad that I came to your blog. I really look forward to reading more of your thoughts.

    I read somewhere that its better to be out on the waves with Jesus than in the boat without him. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on Jonah

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  7. Lynn, That was so encouraging. You have a gift with words!! When I read what God gives you to write I can feel it in my emotions, almost as though I am experiencing it myself. Well, I have, so I know what you are talking about. I’ve been there, done that, too. May I share a story with you? I don’t think you’ll mind.

    Back in the early 80s, when my children were still quite young, and I was a young mother of 4, I had a situation in a church with the leadership misjudging me, and honestly, not being very nice about it, either. The pastor said to me, “Would you say you have been crucified with Christ?” I said, “Yes.” He said, “Well I say you haven’t.” Wow! That hit like a ton of bricks. My heart was broken. It was crushed, in fact. So, what did I do? I ran! I mean, what else could I do? He had sealed my fate, and there was no other way around it, right? I felt I had no other recourse. So, I just played the game “I’m ok.” “You’re ok.” And, then everything was fine. They were happy with me, but I wasn’t happy with me.

    Then, one day I was reading the story of Jonah to my children, and God spoke so clearly to my heart that that was me, not for the same reasons Jonah ran, mind you, but still I was running from the situation. He told me to get back in there and to fight this thing through. And, then I said, “But God, you don’t understand!” The thing of it is, I really believed that. I believed God had no power over my situation but that this pastor did, and that there was nothing I could do to change it. But, the Lord kept encouraging me, so I went and talked with a good friend of mine, and she was telling me that I came across like I “had it all together,” so she was trying to identify where that came from. But, it wasn’t until she said, “I know what it is. It is a spirit of fear,” that I knew this was it. So, we prayed for God to deliver me, and he did.

    But, what came next was something I would not have ever imagined. I had been severely abused by my dad in my childhood, was told I just needed to stuff it, basically, had no one I could talk with about it, and thought I was doing the right thing by just trying to forget it. But, I wasn’t forgetting it, I was just hiding it deep inside me, the hurt, that is. So, when God delivered me from this spirit of fear, all these memories and hurts began to come to the surface and I began to weep out loud. I didn’t know what to do with what I was feeling, and my friend didn’t know either, so she suggested I talk with the pastor. Oh, no, I couldn’t do that. He hated me. So, she talked to him for me, and told him what my deal was.

    Well, this same pastor who had been so cruel to me now called me on the phone. He told me he was sorry. He told me that, as my pastor, he is supposed to be a spiritual father to me, but that he hadn’t been a very good one, and he asked me to forgive him and to give him a second chance. Just think, if I had hung in there with the Jonah thing, I would have totally missed out on that, and so would have he.

    Well, to make a long story short, the Lord took me through a long healing process, because there was so much damage done to my heart and emotions and mind, but this pastor was there to help me through the beginning stages of it, anyway, and through it all we actually developed a friendship. Weird, huh?

    Anyway, when we run from things God has allowed in our lives, for his purposes, we miss out on all the blessings he has for us through them, and so do many other people whom he wants to do marvelous things in their lives, too. So, instead of running, we need to see what God wants to do through our circumstances, and believe he is completely sovereign, and he does truly understand. Sue

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    • What a beautiful testimony, Sue! Thank you so much for telling me your story. I am honored that you would share it with me. What an inspiration you are! And you are so right: God is truly good and can use even circumstances that are less than ideal to bring about great good in our lives. What a beautiful reminder of that your story is! Thank you again and again. I know this will be a blessing to others who read here. God bless you greatly!

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      • Thanks, Lynn. To be honest, that is not the last time I ran from God. You think I would have learned my lesson, and I did for a long while, but I had some other times in my life when the pressures of life got me down, and instead of running to God, I ran from him. But, praise the Lord, I stopped running quite a few years ago, except now I run into his arms, which is the only place to be ever!

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      • I think the Lord is leading me this morning to “borrow” my story from what I wrote here on your site and to use it in my devotion this morning. So, don’t be surprised if you see it again sometime soon. 🙂 Sue

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