We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. 2 Thessalonians 1:3
Our opening scripture holds great promise. Where God is present and unquenched, faith and love will increase.
The next verse reveals the catalyst for that growth: persecutions and afflictions.
I want to suggest to you that this very moment—these days of great affliction and increasing persecutions—offer a backdrop to exponentially expand the faith and love of God’s people.
God has commissioned us to change the world and positioned us to see it done. The question is, are we willing?
I’m going to be honest for us. In most cases, we aren’t. We talk a good talk, but when the time comes to actually fulfill the role God has set before us, we offer all kinds of excuses. We act a bit like Jonah, running from God’s presence rather than boldly stepping up in obedience to our calling.
Then we blame God for not revealing more of His power.
But what if God has a message to speak to us through Jonah’s life, dear one? What if His Spirit stirs even now, daring us to hope for the miraculous? I think all of us can easily relate to Jonah’s stumbling. But what if we could also relate to his triumph?
Imagine it, beloved. Jonah’s story led to one of the greatest revivals recorded in history. A flawed, selfish man finally humbled himself, walked into the great city of Nineveh, and spoke eight words. “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown” (Jonah 3:4).
What happened next defied logic.
And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them. Jonah 3:5
Did you catch it, dear one? A pagan, rebellious people believed God.
Eight words spoken by a submitted prophet changed the heart of every citizen in Nineveh, from the least to the greatest. Amazing, isn’t it? One man’s obedience unleashed repentance and deliverance for an entire city—a city so big that in Jonah’s time it took three days to journey through it.
But this revival didn’t just touch the people. It transformed its king.
The word reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he issued a proclamation and published through Nineveh, “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything. Let them not feed or drink water, but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them call out mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish.” Jonah 3:6-9
A godless king suddenly believed God held the power to destroy and redeem. And that belief brought him to his knees.
God responded precisely the way scripture promises He would.
When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it. Jonah 3:10
Oh, beloved. What if we could see this kind of miraculous transformation in our own nation? Our hearts cry out for revival! But like Jonah, most of us would rather not be the instruments God uses to bring it.
I wonder, dear one. What kind of storm will it take to humble you before God? Whose lives are you willing to risk?
Whether we care to admit it or not, our rebellion allows pain and disaster to increase around us. Our disobedience puts lives in jeopardy.
Just ask Jonah. His defiance stirred up a storm that threatened everyone aboard the ship he fled on—until Jonah finally stopped running and acknowledged his responsibility. Facing peril, his heart changed, and the lives of the men on board became more important than his own. Overcoming the selfishness that sent him running, Jonah offered his life to save them.
He said to them, “Pick me up and hurl me into the sea; then the sea will quiet down for you, for I know it is because of me that this great tempest has come upon you.” Jonah 1:12
When they hurled him into the sea, the raging ceased, and they “feared the LORD exceedingly” (verse 16). But Jonah’s story wasn’t over. He spent three days and nights in the belly of a great fish. There he learned the beauty of the fast. And he prayed.
God moved in response to his prayer, causing the great fish to spit him out onto land. And Jonah—humbled, yielded, changed, and anointed—traveled to Nineveh to deliver the message God had given him, saving thousands more.
What circumstance in your life has you in the belly of the fish, beloved? What is God asking you to surrender so that He can move through you in power? What will God unleash through you when you walk in the power of your own anointing?
Jonah’s success had nothing to do with his own talents or eloquence. It came from the presence of God working through him. When he finally denied his own desires in humble submission to God, the Spirit poured forth in power.
And an entire city repented, from the least to the greatest, including their king.
Immense hope looms before us, dear one. The miraculous redemption of our nation is possible if we believe.
But resurrection life first requires death.
So here’s the question before us. Are we willing to put to death our own desires to save those who are drowning?
Beloved, God’s power flowing through your life emerges from death and resurrection.
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20
We must first live the gospel in order to share the gospel. Otherwise, our self-righteous hypocrisy refutes the message. But when we are undone—crucified to the flesh—the Spirit flows in power.
The early church proved that to be true.
And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord. Acts 11:21
Let’s stop running and own our responsibility. Let’s descend to the depths with Jesus and rise to new life.
Submitted. Selfless. Holy. Anointed.
Then we will change the world.