I came across Jonah 2:8 during my 30-day read through the minor prophets. If you are not sure what a minor prophet is, let me break it down a bit for you. To begin with, a prophet is generally a person who speaks God’s truth to others. They had the very important role of guiding the nation of Israel (a people chosen by God through whom Jesus Christ would be born) and establishing the church. There are 17 prophesy books in the Bible and they are divided into the major and minor prophets. The title of major and minor has nothing to do with status or ability, rather those titles relate to the length of the books. I dedicated 30 days to reading through the 12 minor prophet books, and the book of Jonah is one of those books.
In Jonah 2:8, I read a verse that spoke so loudly to me in the season of life that I am in. For me, this season is one of evaluation and refocusing. I have come to realize through God’s guiding that I have spent a lot of time with my focus in the wrong place. I have placed my focus on me rather than on God. What this produces in my life often is anxiety, insecurity, lack of contentment, and even vanity, because much of my life is being concerned about me. Consequently, what I was choosing to do was “forsake” all that God had to offer me when I looked to me instead of Him. If you were wondering, here is where I got the idea of using the word “forsake.” We read in Jonah 2:8 that “Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love.” The Message version reads like this: “Those who worship hollow gods, god-frauds, walk away from their only true love.” Wow! That is just packed full of some powerful stuff. So let’s just break it down some.
When Jonah uses the phrase “pay regard,” he is essentially saying that you are worshipping something, specifically idols in this case. To worship idols simply means to give excessive attention, reverence, or focus to something other than God. That’s precisely what I was doing. I was excessively being concerned about me, and by doing that, I was forsaking or abandoning the opportunity to receive from God the blessing of His love that He had promised me. Foolish yes, but thankfully God opened me up to this truth and reminded me that, “God is my helper; the Lord is the upholder of my life” (Psalm 54:4). By choosing to place the focus on myself, I was expecting that I would be capable of taking care of my own needs. Not possible and not healthy. God in His steadfast love promises to provide for my needs. This can, and always should be, my hope. Focusing on anything else besides God for my provision will always leave me feeling hopeless. My friends, rest today in the steadfast love of God, and don’t forsake the hope that can only be found in Him. Place your focus on Him.