As the crowds were increasing, He began to say, "This generation is a wicked generation; it seeks for a sign, and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah. For just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation. (Luke 11:29-30 NASB)
We're on a detour in order to better understand the sign of Jonah. Yesterday, we stopped at the point where Jonah had begun to see that "sorry" did not make it all better. The sailors had said, "Jonah, this storm is your fault," and he had said, "Yes, it is." Those irate and frightened sailors had a few questions for him, starting with, "If you believe in the God of the universe like you say you do, how could you do this?" Jonah found that his actions spoke much louder than his words.
After I posted the blog yesterday, I realized that those sailors had tried to do something Jonah should have considered.
Then the sailors became afraid and every man cried to his god, and they threw the cargo which was in the ship into the sea to lighten it for them. But Jonah had gone below into the hold of the ship, lain down and fallen sound asleep. (Jonah 1:5 NASB)
When the storm arose, admittedly a whopper of a storm, the sailors were terrified. The first action the sailors took was to cry to their god. These men were not worshipping Jehovah, but they instinctively knew that only a powerful god could save them. They turned to the god they knew best in their time of need. Some probably worshipped Baal, some Molech, or another of the gods of the time. Every man, however, turned first to that which they worshipped for help.
In a way, that's our problem, too. When trouble begins to come our way, we turn first to that god we know best. It may be that we look to ourselves and our own ability to "pull ourselves up by our bootstraps". Others look to chemical aid (drugs, alcohol, food). There are some who turn to friends, family, even the law for aid.
Those pagan sailors turned first to the god they knew. When that medley of gods didn't save them, they turned to themselves and began to lighten the load by throwing the cargo overboard. When the storm continued unabated, they realized that in which they trusted was not adequate to deliver them.
When the storms of life come our way, we will instinctively do exactly what those sailors did. We will turn to that which sustains us in the easy times. If our trust is not in Almighty God, we, too, will find ourselves unable to weather the storm. If you, like me, have ever gone through one of those times when life is filled with turmoil and uncertainty, you know the truth of this. When my trust is in myself, I have a poor deliverer.
If we want to successfully weather the storms of life, we must prepare in advance by placing our trust in the only One who can guide us through and calm the storm. We must practice faith in Him on a daily basis. Then, when crisis comes, and we turn instinctively to the One we trust the most, we will find an anchor that holds and help that is able to deliver.
The psalmist wrote that God is our "very present help in time of trouble." (Psalm 46:1) When our faith is in Him, that help is where we turn first. When we do, we will find His help is exactly what we need.
But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness,
and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:33 NASB)