“Then the crew cast lots to see which of them had offended the gods and caused the terrible storm. When they did this, the lots identified Jonah as the culprit. ‘Why has this awful storm come down on us?’ they demanded. ‘Who are you? What is your line of work? What country are you from? What is your nationality?’


Jonah answered, ‘I am a Hebrew, and I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land.’ The sailors were terrified when they heard this, for he had already told them he was running away from the Lord. ‘Oh, why did you do it?’ they groaned. And since the storm was getting worse all the time, they asked him, ‘What should we do to you to stop this storm?’


‘Throw me into the sea,’ Jonah said, ‘and it will become calm again. I know that this terrible storm is all my fault.’


Instead, the sailors rowed even harder to get the ship to the land. But the stormy sea was too violent for them, and they couldn’t make it. Then they cried out to the Lord, Jonah’s God. ‘O Lord,’ they pleaded, ‘don’t make us die for this man’s sin. And don’t hold us responsible for his death. O Lord, you have sent this storm upon him for your own good reasons.’


Then the sailors picked Jonah up and threw him into the raging sea, and the storm stopped at once! The sailors were awestruck by the Lord’s great power, and they offered him a sacrifice and vowed to serve him. Now the Lord had arranged for a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was inside the fish for three days and three nights.” Jonah 1:7-17 (NLT)



Jonah was running in the opposite direction of where God had directed him. God had a plan, but Jonah had his own plan. Instead of following God to preach repentance to a wicked and cruel people, he made his own plans to start his life in a different place. Yet, when Jonah was on the run, God was still near. Even though Jonah initially said no, it didn’t disqualify him from fulfilling the plan God had for him. While he was on a boat sailing far away from Nineveh, God sent a storm to get Jonah’s attention. The sailors started asking questions that Jonah wouldn’t have asked himself. After the sailors realized it was Jonah’s disobedience that caused the storm, they tried to save him and themselves, which only intensified the storm. Finally, the sailors complied, and Jonah found himself staring at the water and waves swirling around the boat. His plans were about to drown in the sea. There was something holy in that moment when Jonah thought he was facing his last breath as the waves washed over him, and God intervened. Jonah’s plans hadn’t gone like he had hoped, but God was still there providing protection, provision, and direction. The fish would become a place of heart change. It’s in that place that Jonah would accept a change of plans.


Each day, we have the opportunity to follow the Lord as He leads. In our journey of walking with Him, there are times when our plans don’t necessarily align with His plan. We can decide to do our own thing, but God keeps pursuing us and trying to get our attention. There is something holy here in this place where everything doesn’t go like you had hoped. Yes, it is hard and even gut wrenching. In that place, God is still there. When Jonah was thrown into the raging sea, God was there. In our places of plans that didn’t work out, we can throw our hands up in the air and give up. What if God is wanting to bring a different answer than what you were hoping? God may want to show you His faithfulness in a way you weren’t anticipating. While God’s plan may be challenging, He always gives you the strength that you need. If Jesus is there, you have all you need. On this side of eternity, we can’t see the timeline nor understand all that will come in our future. While we can try to hold on to our plans while drowning in a sea of anguish, we are better off accepting that a change of plans may require a change of heart to get us where we need to go.

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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About Hona Amer

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