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Antidote for Hopelessness: It's never too late to pray!

despair.jpgJonah 1:15-2:1

15 So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea: and the sea ceased from her raging. 16 Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice unto the LORD, and made vows. 17 Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. Jonah 2:1 Then Jonah prayed unto the LORD his God out of the fish’s belly,

The words of a writer: “Somehow it just slipped away from me. The weird thing is that even in my busiest time at work, I still found time to update the site. Now, when things finally were settling down… it just wasn’t happening.

And then it got to a point where I almost felt “Why bother”… it’s already so far gone.. would it even make any difference if I didn’t update the page? Couldn’t I just wait until next month?

One word springs to mind: Procrastination .”

All of us have been to this place.

  • We know what we should have done, but we didn’t do it.
  • We know we should have gotten the oil changed and the car maintained…
  • We know we should have stopped for gas…
  • We know we should have bought that snow shovel…
  • We know we should have studied for that exam…
  • We know we should have checked on the kids…
  • We know we should have saved up some money for the taxes…

I remember hearing a fable of three little devils trying to impress Satan. The first tells him that he’ll tempt mankind to commit all sorts of sexual sins… The second that he’ll tempt mankind into all sorts of different abuse. But the third one is the shrewdest. “I’ll tell them to do all the good works they can… but I’ll tell them to do it tommorow …”

Let’s look at Jonah’s predicament.

He ran from the call of God straight into a crisis.

  • First, how can anyone run from the Omnipresent God?
  • Ships to Tarshish sail every day. Jonah 1:3
  • If the call of God is on your life, you will never be happy doing anything else.

He attempted to practice religion without making a commitment.

Jonah 1:6-10 So the shipmaster came to him, and said unto him, What meanest thou, O sleeper? arise, call upon thy God, if so be that God will think upon us, that we perish not. 7 And they said every one to his fellow, Come, and let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this evil is upon us. So they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah. 8 Then said they unto him, Tell us, we pray thee, for whose cause this evil is upon us; What is thine occupation? and whence comest thou? what is thy country? and of what people art thou? 9 And he said unto them, I am an Hebrew; and I fear the LORD, the God of heaven, which hath made the sea and the dry land. 10 Then were the men exceedingly afraid, and said unto him, Why hast thou done this? For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the LORD, because he had told them.

Regardless of what else you do that’s right, you will never be right unless and until you do the one thing that you know is right!

His despair became the stage for God’s miraculous power.

Look at the facts of the situation:

  • He had denied the call of God.
  • He had run from God.
  • He had been discovered by God.
  • He had been thrown overboard.
  • He had been swallowed by a fish.

From all appearances, it looks pretty hopeless.
Choking on seaweed, terrorized by a great fish, in the depths of the sea…you would think that prayin’ time was over for Jonah.
Gone too far? Done too much? Said “no” too often? Made God too angry?
Jonah decided that it was never too late to pray.
As a pastor, if I looked only at the outward facts of the situations I face, I would fold my Bible and go to Bob Evans this morning.

  • Bankruptcy appears certain, or already been declared.
  • Drug addiction and alcoholism has already run its course.
  • The judge’s sentence has already been pronounced.
  • The divorce seems inevitable.
  • The disease has been declared terminal.
  • The job is lost.
  • The grades have already been handed out.
  • Yet, it was at this late moment that Jonah began to pray.

The cure for hopelessness does not lie in the circumstances that surround you, but in you surrounding the circumstances with hope.
The cure for hopelessness does not come from the problem but from the promise.
Hope stands ever ready for you to grasp its handles

The circumstances said it was too late for Abraham and Sarah to have children.

Rom 4:16-21

16 Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all… 18 Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations; according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be. 19 And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara’s womb: 20 He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; 21 And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.

The circumstances said it was too late for Lazarus to be restored.

John 11:37-44

37 And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died? 38 Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. 39 Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days. 40 Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God? 41 Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. 42 And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. 43 And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. 44 And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.

When we procrastinate with spiritual things, we often give into the lie that it’s “too late” when we do eventually want to do right.

No matter how great the distance between God and you seems, it’s just an “I want back in” away from God.

The instance of Bob Shehan in Mishawaka, Indiana.

It’s NEVER too late to do the right thing.

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