God is a God of Second Chances

The post below first appeared at Cycle Guy’s Spin as part of a series on 2nd Chances. Since it, along with a resulting series on depression, were so well-received and with depression coming even more to our attentions with the death of Robin Williams, I decided to repost both my second chance story along with the depression series here on Struggle to Victory. Thursday’s post will present the first of 5 posts in the depression series.

JonahLearning from Jonah

What do you remember about the story of Jonah from Sunday School? Maybe you remember Jonah’s change of mind toward obedience, him being thrown into the water and spit out by the whale, or the Ninevites’ change of heart toward God. Whatever first comes to mind, I’m guessing it’s not the plant at the end of the story.

The dead plant doesn’t get much attention in Sunday School class. I all but forgot about it until my oldest (now 15) got interested in Veggie Tales around age 3. Now, two things stick out when I think of Jonah.

  1. God is a god of second chances.
  2. Jonah showed the most emotion when the plant died, and we never hear of him again. (Jonah 4)

Jonah got angry when God gave the people of Ninevah a second chance. He got even angrier to the point of death when the shade-giving plant God gave him died. Let’s consider Jonah’s reactions in this story.

  1. He didn’t like having his plans changed.
  2. He played the “I told you so” card with God.
  3. He got embarrassed because what he predicted didn’t happen.
  4. He showed more concern for his own comfort than the spiritual welfare of others.
  5. He knew about God but failed to have a relationship with Him.

Unfortunately, Jonah’s story, especially his anger, reflects my own second-chance story all too well.

My Second Chance Story

For years, I wallowed in depression, refusing to see God’s compassion and mercy in my life. I threw tantrums when my plans were changed, and I hated appearing wrong. What others thought of me drove me to run away and avoid any discomfort. I knew about God – grew up going to church – but the spiritual state of anyone mattered little because caring meant confronting out-of-control emotion, and that mean discomfort. No thanks. I’d rather die.

Over time, God changed my heart from one focused on self to one that cared for others. He defeated my egotistical temper and replaced it with compassion and mercy. Through His Holy Spirit, God showed me the value of discomfort and how it could teach me to truly live. Through His Word, He developed a relationship with me that focused on pleasing Him instead of creating comfort.

I’m not sure what happened to Jonah after the plant died, but I know the same compassion and mercy God had for the Ninevites and that seemed lost on Jonah is the same compassion and mercy He has for me and for anyone who turns to Him.

Now when the plants die in my life and my shaded comfort disappears, God’s compassion and mercy – the avenues of second chances – turn me toward Him. They encourage me to push through embarrassment and toward relationship. God’s compassion and mercy drastically altered the course of my life and they’ll do the same for your life too.

DISCUSSION: What impact has God’s compassion and mercy had upon your life?

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13 thoughts on “God is a God of Second Chances

  1. Not sure the I read this the first time. But I love the veggie tales about Jonah. I can relate to Jonah God ask me to go one direction I go another. It seems like you are telling my story in your second chance story. I tend to shy away from people. I don't like change because of the discomfort it bring. This does inspire me to think about challenging myself a little more to get out of my comfort zone.

    • Certainly does seem like we have similar struggles based on your brief synopsis of yours. What has helped me most is to have people who love me enough to challenge me to get outside of my comfort zone. As easily as I could seclude myself, I know it's not healthy, nor is it scriptural. Looking forward to your thoughts on the rest of the series!

  2. I think that the longer I'm a Christian, the more important it is for me to be reminded of God's mercy. For some reason we can easily slip into the mindset that forgets the depths of our sin and what God really saved us from. I find that when I keep God's mercy at the front of my mind it dramatically changes how I interact with others.
    My recent post Not Even War Will Stop the Church in Ukraine!

    • I completely agree, Caleb. The Gospel – what God did for us – totally changes how we approach everything if we truly keep it as our focus. You hit on a key aspect of where God has been taking me lately in my studies.

  3. I think I missed it the first time, or my memory fails, could be either! I have not thought about the plant either, but I do know God is not only into second chances, but third and fourth and more, as many as I need. I am so grateful for that! I have been out in nature today and as I have looked at the stars last night, the trees, water and animals today I can feel God with me. So thankful for every opportunity He affords.

  4. I am so thankful for His second chances. I had a hard time believing His way was best for me. I had this right/wrong attitude about things, and if something wasn't wrong I couldn't understand why God might not allow it. And I wallowed. After all I was doing my best to do everything "right." By God's grace I've grown to believe that His plans for me are not about right/wrong but they are best. Trust and hope have replaced depression. Words don't sufficiently express my gratitude. It has changed everything . . . not the circumstances, but everything within. Blessings Kari. Thanks for running this again.
    My recent post Things Christians Complain About

    • Great point, Deb. So often, our choices are not about what's right and what's wrong but what's best. We more often have to choose among good, better and best rather than bad and good. Your focus on the Gospel message and how it motivates you is inspiring, Deb. Letting gratitude drive all that we do is such a key for our lives. Have you heard of the book "What's Best Next?" by Matt Perman? It gets at just this point. Might be something for you to think about reading. It lines up with your perspective for sure and applies it to being productive and effective.

  5. I'm so thankful we serve a God who is slow to anger and quick to forgive. Knowing myself I need all the grace and mercy He offers. Great post Bill!

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