I’m sure when those sailors tossed Jonah overboard they felt bad for him, but getting tossed overboard was the best thing that ever happened to Jonah.

As a pastor, I can’t count the number of people who have walked through the doors of the church because misery drove them there. Whether it’s an upcoming court date, marital problems, physical sickness, or financial trouble, nothing reminds us of our need for God like misery. It’s actually one of God’s most potent tools.

2 Samuel 14:14
“…But God does not just sweep life away; instead, he devises ways to bring us back when we have been separated from him.”

I love the idea that God loves me too much to give up on me. According to 2 Samuel, like an expert fisherman, God knows when to reel me in, and even when I have drifted or walked away from Him, He is devising ways to bring me back.

Over time, all of us drift away from wholehearted commitment to God and gravitate towards idols we’re convinced will make us happier and more fulfilled. We don’t totally abandon God, but we shift our faith to more money, a career, a relationship, or our kids. In the short term we feel a satisfaction that seems better than our relationship with an invisible God, but eventually, whether in 2 months or 20 years, we find out the truth about idols, they don’t have the power to save.

If you’re like me, you have to learn your lesson the hard way; I’m not convinced God’s ways are the best ways to best life until my ways hit a dead end, and crash and burn. Like the prodigal son, it takes a few days in the pigpen for me to realize I can go home.

Psalm 51:12
“Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.”

Like David, I have learned that sometimes to rediscover the joy of my salvation, God has to make me willing to obey Him.

When life takes turns for the worse it can feel like God is punishing us, but He isn’t. He is blessing us with misery so we can recognize again, that only He can save and sustain.

[Tweet “Sometimes misery is what it takes for us to consider returning God”]

Sometimes bankruptcy, divorce, being fired, arrested, losing custody, or being publicly humiliated is what it takes for us to consider returning God. Sometimes three days in the belly of a whale is exactly what we need.

Thank you God for misery.

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