After taking a bit of an electronic fast through Lent, I am going to resume writing reflections on the daily lectionary readings. While I'm keeping the "lection reflection" idea, I'm going to be giving each daily thought its own title, putting "lection reflection" into the sub-title. This will make it easier for readers to find and choose a daily reflection that interests them without having to click past a boilerplate title.
Today finds us in the belly of the fish with Jonah...
After running from the task God had given him to do, Jonah famously ends up in the belly of the fish with plenty of time to think. As many of us are inclined to do in times of trouble with no where else to turn, he cries out to God. "I called to the LORD in my distress, and he answered me...As my life was fading away, I remembered the LORD, and my prayer came to you, to your holy temple" (Jonah 2.1, 7 CSB). Of course, our ideal life of prayer is that in which we pray constantly (1 Thess 5.17). All too often, however, our lives look less like this ideal and more like Jonah.
When we face trial, trouble, hardship, and difficulties--that is, when our crosses are laid upon us--then we are drawing nearer and nearer to God. As Reformation-era Lutheran theologian David Chytraeus wrote:
Neither the accumulated wisdom of all the earth and the skies, nor languages, the Church Fathers, and daily reading of the Holy Scripture, nor immense learning and eloquence make a good theologian or pastor if the cross is not added. Through the cross God purifies, cleanses, strengthens, and perfects the light of His true knowledge, of true faith in Christ, of true understanding of the divine promises, proper prayer, hope, humility, and all the virtues which He has first planted in the heart through the Word.
What Chytraeus prescribed for pastors is surely true of all Christians. Let us keep our eyes firmly fixed on Christ in the midst of hard times and despair. As Jesus himself encourages us, "“Don’t let your heart be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me" (John 14.1 CSB).