Call Our Souls to Remember (Jonah, Part 9)

Written by Julie

On May 16, 2022

Even as Jonah despaired of the hope of God’s presence, he called his soul to remember the character of God. God’s presence seemed to be slipping away from him, but Jonah quickly made a declaration of faith and hope with the word yet. It may seem as if all hope is lost, yet God is faithful. The pain may feel like too much to bear, yet God is merciful. …  
… Even when painful experiences pummel us like crashing waves dragging us along the ocean floor and disorienting us so that we cannot catch our breath, we can declare this truth to our hearts, “I will again rejoice in the presence of the Lord.” God does not abandon us, but He pursues us, and it is often through our pain that He draws us near to Himself. God has promised His presence to us and He has guaranteed it by the death and resurrection of His Son. His presence is the greatest gift of salvation and it is our hope in every situation.

Joanna Kimbrel, “A Humbling Descent,” Mercy in the Storm: a study on the book of Jonah (underlining added)

On April 22nd and 23rd, I (along with several others from my youth group) attended the SoldOut youth conference. There were so many memories and lessons and convictions. . . We looked at what truth is, how God’s Word is truth, the truth of who God is, and the truth of who we are.

Anyway, the reason I brought it up is because of the first sentence in the above quote. One of the things the speaker Rick Rhodes talked about was how our circumstances do not affect God’s character. Our circumstances change and may be horrible, but God is still the same and still good. Our feelings, our beliefs, our circumstances do not determine the truth.

Jonah’s circumstances were horrible. He was literally in a low and dark place, surrounded by slime, half-digested food, stench, I don’t know what. It was not a good or pleasant or happy place.

But he called himself to remember God’s character. Chapter 2 of Jonah, besides the last verse, is the prayer of Jonah. He talks about God hearing him, God bringing his life up from corruption, and salvation being of God. He makes a couple “I will” statements, which to me sounds like, “I will have the opportunity to do these things again; I will somehow live–how? Because salvation is of the Lord, and He is gracious, merciful, slow to anger, of great kindness [Jonah 4:2, which will come up again in another post 😉].”

He remembered.

We should remember instances where God answered prayers (for ourselves or for others), where He provided for needs, where He made a way when we thought it was impossible. We should remember times when we felt His presence, His love, His power. We should remember stories of His greatness and how He came through when all seemed hopeless.

And then, when the hard times come and you’re tempted to doubt, look back at those things. Remind yourself (and others!) of the promises kept, of the answered prayers, of the needs provided for, of the ways God showed up and proved Himself able.
Look for the works of God, and store them up in your memory. Hold them dear; treasure them.
Remember. . . and be encouraged.

me, in Remember

This topic has kinda come up for me at least twice in the past two weeks, and it’s come up other times. I hear it again, think about it again: remember, tell stories, keep in mind, make an “altar”, etc.

It was mentioned in the youth girls’ Bible study: we need reminders. It could be words written down. It could be a lie crossed out and replaced with truth {I’ll have to do a post on that sometime}. It could be like the piles of stones erected after God spoke to Jacob in a dream (Genesis 28:10-18) or after the children of Israel crossed the Jordan River (Joshua 4:4-7, 21-24) or over the bodies of people such as Achan (Joshua 7); it was to worship, to commemorate, to remind, to warn. We are such forgetful people, and we can so easily start believing lies that creep in without our realization.

Are we deliberately remembering?

Do we make the conscious decision that we will remember? Do we remind ourselves who God is, what He’s done, Whose we are?

The Jews’ lives were–are–filled with remembering. They have holiday after holiday, memorializing past events and how God provided, etc. Rules in the Old Testament–not reaping every bit from fields/vineyards, strapping Scriptures in boxes on foreheads/arms, welcoming strangers, forgiving debts, setting free Hebrew slaves in the seventh year, etc.–are about remembering where God brought them from, who they are because of God, what God has done, who God is. Their lives circled around God, were filled with God.

We have holidays (Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving) commemorating things God has done. But do we really understand, really remember–or are they just days to party and eat? There’s things we do, rules we follow. Do we truly know why we do them and do we desire to be obedient and serve God–or do we do it just because it’s tradition or because we want to look good or because we’re scared of the consequences? Do our lives circle around God; are they filled with God? Are we continually remembering, reminding ourselves and others: “This is where we were; this is how God provided and brought us out. This is who we were; this is who we are now in Christ. This is who God is and what He’s done and is doing and will do.”

When hard times come, will we remember other hard times that God brought us through? Will we know His character enough to trust Him? Will we stand with the confidence of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and say, “Our God whom we serve is able and He will, but even if not–even if this doesn’t turn out the way we think or want–we won’t give in and He’ll still be good” (Daniel 3:17-18, paraphrased; see Win and I’s comments on Dark Billows)?

Even in the good times, the ordinary times, the mundane and boring times, do we still remember? Do we still remember God and His works and our desperate need of Him every millisecond of our lives? Do we still remember to be followers of Him and fishers of men?

Do we call our souls to remember?

Previous posts in this series:
Called to Leave (Jonah, Part 1)
Hate and Fear (Jonah, Part 2)
Fleeing the Father (Jonah, Part 3)
Wake Up, Sleeper (Jonah, Part 4)
Punishment and Grace (Jonah, Part 5)
Stereotypes (Jonah, Part 6)
Interrupted (Jonah, Part 7)
Seeing Jesus in Jonah (Jonah, Part 8)

		
Julie

Julie

Hi, I'm Julie, a 17-year-old lover of books, music, and Jesus. I'm a senior in high school (Abeka Academy) and have been blogging for three years. I also co-publish a digital magazine called Priceless geared toward teen girls. My desire is to use my words to glorify my Saviour and to encourage you in your walk with God. I'd love to hear from you!

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Matt Hochstetler
Matt Hochstetler
6 months ago

Thanks for the REMINDER to REMEMBER! I definitely have room to grow in being intentional about this.

PS. Maybe this is why I hate social media stories and Snapchat. These memories are intentionally erased instead of remaining as reminders for years to come.