Sunday School Lessons

Side Benefit

The other day, I opened one of those new “pouches” that food is sometimes packaged in these days.  I looked across the back of the package for a tear line, but – not finding any – I ended up tearing or cutting the package open (without any assistance from the manufacturer).  Then, I turned the pouch over, and found a resealable slot on the front that I could have used (along with instructions to not cut the package open).  As it turns out, failing to follow the instructions not only resulted in me not missing out on something that had been provided for me, but now I had to find some other way to close the pouch back up!

In the previous article, we were invited to consider how much easier it is to follow God’s direction up-front, rather than trying to fix things ourselves.  While our lives can run better in God’s plan when we are following Him (albeit with ups and downs), that’s not the only benefit of yielding to God’s will sooner, rather than later.

After trying to row out of the storm themselves, the sailors finally accept Jonah’s message for what they must do to make the storm stop.

Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm. At this the men greatly feared the LORD, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows to him.
Jonah 1:15‭-‬16 NIV

When the others did what Jonah said, the storm stopped.

To reiterate something from the last article: I do not expect God to tell you to throw someone overboard today.  However, there are times when God calls us to do something that seems wrong by human standards, or to take an action that we expect will get us into trouble with those who don’t honor God.  It’s probably OK to pray to God before we move forward with His plan, making sure that we’re hearing the truth from Him and asking for His help.  When it comes time to do what is clearly the right thing, though, we need to step up and do it.

However, even though they are no longer in immediate danger, the sailors don’t forget what they learned.  They had a whole new level of respect for God (or at least for God’s power), and they took time to offer a sacrifice.  Unlike 9 lepers who Jesus healed in Luke 17:11-19, these men did not forget to recognize who saved them.  I don’t know what happened to these men after that fateful voyage: they still had to account for the discarded cargo, and they might not have picked up any Israelites who were fleeing from God anymore, but they were changed that day.

So, although I used the word “victims” in an earlier article to describe the other people on this ship, this wasn’t their only purpose for being involved.  With God, even those who may seem to be innocent bystanders can be part of His plan, and good can result in their lives.

Following God’s guidance and direction for our lives allows us to bring more glory to Him.  And, when we glorify and thank God, we are serving a higher purpose than our own selfishness.

In addition, as we see the blessings and wisdom of God’s plan, we learn to trust Him more and more with our decisions, and the result can be an “upward spiral”, both for us and for others around us.  I like how this song says it, “He’s Never Failed Me Yet” (and, I like CeCe Winans’ singing).

I’m not saying that being in the storm was good (in fact, I don’t think that disaster and suffering were part of what God created for the human race in the Garden of Eden), but God used it for good.  We must remember that bad things can be part of God’s plan, even if they are still bad.  However, if we follow God’s direction, there are more blessings of God’s plan waiting for us.  He’s never failed us yet.

From Sunday School lesson prepared for June 5, 2022


  • The Lookout, June 5, 2022, © 2022 Christian Standard Media.
  • Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
  • The College Press Commentary, Minor Prophets Volume 1: Hosea-MIcah, by Harold Shank.  College Press Publishing Company, © 2001.

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