Upcoming on my "The Bad, & The Ugly: Fears & Failures" Devotional Blog Series:
** Fear is a gateway to self-doubt **
- What Can We Learn From Jonah
- Light Conquers Darkness
What Can We Learn From Jonah?
From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the LORD his God. He said: “In my distress I called to the LORD, and he answered me. From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help, and you listened to my cry. You hurled me into the depths, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me. I said, ‘I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple.’ The engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head. To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever. But you, LORD my God, brought my life up from the pit. “When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, LORD, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple. “Those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God’s love for them. But I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the LORD.’ ” And the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.
- Jonah 2
On Extraordinary Conversations, Patrick O’Neill talks about how we can learn from Jonah and his fear that led him to the belly of the whale. O’Neill reminds us that even Jonah, a man of God, was truly scared and running away because of his fears. He was being carried far from the one that could help him heal and conquer his fears. This teaches us, as believers, that running away and making choices out of fear gets us nowhere other than plunged into total darkness. Sometimes that is right where God wants us because He is reminding us that we need to stop and conquer the fears in our lives. Too often, we forget that God is there for us and will always be there for us. He was in the belly of the whale with Jonah. He is with you in your darkness waiting for you to realize that you need to face the demons in your life (Eph. 5:8-14).
"For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light... Everything exposed by the light is made clear... Get up sleeper, and rise up from the dead, and the Messiah will shine on you." - Ephesians 5: 8-14
While studying this devotional topic, I dove into some of the topics and verses that connect to them. I want to start with the big topic from this devotional: Fear and Overcoming Them. Then, I am going to jump back to Jonah 1 and cover some verses on the Waiting Season.
What does the Bible say about Fear and Overcoming Them?
The Lord can deliver us from our fears if we take them to Him. Meaning He can take away our fears if we give them to Him. He wants to hear from us.
This is the "Ye of little faith" story that is also told in Mark 4. Meaning the Bible tells us at least twice that Jesus can calm all of our fears with the touch of His hand.
This is the Good Shepard story, the one (at least my children's church) I grew up reciting. It is a reminder that He is always with us and His protection comforts us.
Luke 1:12-14, 29-31
Two times, in this chapter alone, Jesus reminds us not to be afraid. Why? Because He already knows what's coming and He is going to carry us through it.
This verse may be short, but it is mighty just like our God. "Whom shall I fear?" The answer is no one because our light and salvation are in the Lord.
I feel like this set of verses really speaks to what is going on in the world right now. We can find Him in times in of trouble and He wants us to find Him. Right now the world is being constantly shaken by all of the changes. Everyone is doing their best to hand on, but it is hard. When in truth, we should be putting our trust in the one that can calm the storm. Because even in the storm, God is still God.
God is the only one that can give us peace because His peace surpasses all understanding (Ph. 4:7).
Only He can set us free from our fears. By praying to God, honestly and openly, while inside the whale Jonah gave it all to God. I believe that is why God commanded the whale to spit Jonah out. Jonah released his fears, the reason he ran from God's calling to the Lord in prayer and God blessed him.
Lift up your fears, stress, and anxieties to the Lord. He won't judge you because He already knows. He's waiting for you to know that you can give everything to Him "because He cares for you" (1 Peter 5:7).
What does the Bible say about A Season of Waiting?
Let's go back to Jonah One for a minute. By Jonah being swallowed by the fish, he was thrust into a waiting season. How? Because he prayed for three days for the Lord to set him free because he didn't want to run from his calling anymore. The whale was a pit stop - a place where Jonah had time to face his fear and reasons for running. But most importantly, he had time to spend with God. Meaning a waiting season can/is a good thing.
"My times are in your hands."
"Let's praise (exalt) His name together."
He will always give us strength, no matter what season of life we are in.
He gives us the ability to soar.
My hope comes from God.
My Story Tie-In
I will be honest with you, I feel like I am always running from my fears and away from God. In August 2019, I made the decision to run back to God after doubting He was still a part of my life. I was wrong, He has always been there for me even when I didn’t think I felt Him. Since running back home has things gotten easier? The answer is actually no. My life is still chaotic and sometimes hard to handle, but I know who holds my tomorrow. I know who I put my trust in, and who loves me more than anyone. I don’t have those same doubts from last year where I felt alone and isolated. I am in a relationship with the greatest man, God. For once, that is enough for me because I know I am accepted and loved. I may feel like Jonah did as he stood in the belly of the whale, but I know the light is coming soon.
I am a Child of God, whom shall I fear?
If you are in your own darkness, what do you think that means?
List out what may be holding you back (fears, stress, anxiety, depression, etc).
Give it all to God.
To sum up both, yes I feel like I am in my own darkness and it is trying to destroy my mind. I am usually the bubbly personality in the room, but even a fake smile seems hard at times. Isn't that the most terrible thing to come across - not being able to even pretend you are okay? It is because that is when you know something is really bothering your mind. I feel like my fears, stress, and anxiety is holding me back from being happy. I have to constantly remind myself that despite it all my God loves me for who I am even when I don't. I don't need someone else's approval - that girl I come across during the day, people in my church group, my family nor my friends, and especially not the negative voices from the past. All I need is God's approval and my opinion of what I am doing. I wasn't put on this earth to please others and I shouldn't have to. Here's to giving it all to God and not worrying about what someone does or doesn't think of me.
As Jonah cried out to you in his darkness, I cry out to you now. I don’t know why you have plunged me here, and I don’t know where you are taking me next, but I will follow you. I will follow you with all my questions and struggles. I know I won’t be stuck forever as long as I put my trust in you, God. I know where I look for help. Help me and everyone reading this devotional to know that the darkness isn’t forever and that the light is coming soon. Thank you for everything. I love you.
The Answer - Jeremy Camp
Creations crying, out from the dark
I know the answer, to every question
The one solution, to every fear
I know my help and where it comes from
Jesus, He is the answer
Listen to the Fears & Failures Playlist: Here.
Scriptures: Jonah 2; [Children of Light] Eph. 5:8-14; [Fear and Overcoming Them] Ps. 23:4, 27:1, 34:4-5, 46:1-4; Matt. 8:25-27/Mark 4; Luke 1: 12-14, 29-31; John 14:27; [A Season of Waiting] Ps. 31:14-15, 34:1-3; Is. 40:31, 58:11, 62:5; 1 Pt. 5:7; Ph. 4:7.