An Epic Bad Day
And the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. Jonah 1:17
I recently had a bad day. My back hurt, I didn’t sleep well, and when my family stopped for breakfast at the gas station, I lost my wallet. I didn’t discover this until later, when I was getting a carwash, during which I left a rear door ajar, soaking the floor. When I went back to the gas station to look for my wallet, nothing. But, in my frustration, I did drive away with the gas pump hose still attached to my car.
In my frustration, I became irritated with myself, my family, and even with God. You could iron out all these little irritations. Why don’t you? I realized how ridiculous I was being, but still, for a moment, I knew God took my wallet.
Jonah, in today’s passage, truly had an epic bad day. First, God commanded him to preach to a people he hated. Then, when he tried to run away, God sent a storm to intercept his ship. Jonah was discovered as the reason for the storm, so the crew threw him overboard. Finally, God sent a great fish to swallow Jonah.
In his misery, Jonah turned to God. Recognizing that his bad day was his own fault, he repented and vowed to change his ways.
In the frustration of my bad day, though it was silly to be angry at God, I was right in turning to him. Eventually, I asked him what I was supposed to learn. I re-learned that little things shouldn’t cause me to snap at my family. My mood shouldn’t be a slave to my circumstances and my behavior shouldn’t be a slave to my mood.
When confronted with life’s trials, we are supposed to grow (James 1). Sometimes, like Jonah, the trials are our fault and we must change our ways. Sometimes, like my lost wallet, God is not punishing us, but rather using irritations to shape us. Whatever the trial, the challenge is always to look to God, asking his will, rather than living enslaved to our own impulses.
In looking to God, I did learn something from my bad day. And, I found my wallet in my car a couple days later, when God returned it.