Then they cried out to the Lord, “Please, Lord, do not let us die for taking this man’s life. Do not hold us accountable for killing an innocent man, for you, Lord, have done as you pleased.” Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm. At this the men greatly feared the Lord, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows to him. Jonah 1:14-16 (NIV).
When your back is up against the wall, you have nowhere else to go. Maybe your choices have boxed you into a corner; maybe God has boxed you there. Maybe you’re out of all other options and the only choices available to you seem to be bad ones. Which is the least bad; which is the best of our bad choices?
We all run into tough situations. Next time it happens to you, ask Jesus. Seriously. Perhaps that is the exact moment He’s been preparing you for. And when you ask Jesus, do so while remembering your vows to Him.
Yep, you heard me. If you have made a vow, or a promise, or even said you’d do something (no matter how small), keep your word in talking with the Lord. He’s looking for us to be genuine in all matters. But what about when you can’t?
The men on the ship were in a bad way. They had made an genuine agreement – a vow – to take this passenger to his destination. They didn’t believe in this God who Jonah spoke of; they followed idols; there’s no indication that the men on Jonah’s ship renounced their pagan gods. Yet, despite that, they did recognize that God is God and that He had sent this misfortune to them because of Jonah’s actions. So, they prayed to God and asked for His mercy, and acknowledged the reality of their situation.
They were afraid, and understandably so. Not only did they fear for their lives (both from the storm and from God), but they recognized that, to oblige Jonah, they would have to throw him overboard to certain death. To make things worse, it meant breaking their vow. But what other choice did they have? They could break their vow, or they could pray for mercy then consciously do an unthinkable thing.
What would you do? If it were you and someone else, and the someone else was encouraging you to kill him, would you, knowing that doing it and breaking your word to do it are terrible things to live with?
And if that’s true during the best of bad choices, what about all our other sins?
For further reading: Numbers 30:2, Deuteronomy 21:8, Psalm 66:13-14, Psalm 107:29, Daniel 4:35, Luke 8:24, Jonah 1:17
Lord Jesus, I pray You had mercy on the men of Jonah’s boat. Have mercy on me when I make hard choices, too.
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