Nothing helps the Christian to endure the trials of life so much as the habit of seeing God in everything. If we remember, as we start each day, that the hand of our Father can be traced in every scene—if we could see in the smallest, as well as in the most weighty circumstances, traces of the divine presence, how full of deep interest and meaning each day would be!
The Book of Jonah illustrates this truth in a very special way. To see this, we only need to notice one word: "prepared." This word occurs in the book four times, each time as an action of God. When Jonah had been cast forth into the sea, we read that "The Lord had prepared a great fish" (Jonah 1:17). A great fish was nothing uncommon; there are many of them in the sea. Yet the Lord prepared one for Jonah in order that it might be the instrument of God's grace.
Again, in chapter four, we find the prophet sitting on the east side of the city of Nineveh, in sullenness and impatience, grieved because the city had not been overthrown and asking the Lord to take away his life. "And the Lord God prepared a gourd" (Jonah 4:6). Men might see a thousand gourds, and even sit beneath their shade, and yet see nothing extraordinary in them. But Jonah's gourd exhibited traces of the hand of God, and forms a link—an important link—in the chain of circumstances through which the prophet was passing.
"God prepared a worm" (Jonah 4:7), and this worm, small as it may be, was as much a divine agent as was the "great fish." A worm, when used by God, can do wonders. It withered Jonah's gourd, and taught him—as it teaches us—a solemn lesson. True, its lesson was only learned after "God prepared a vehement east wind" (Jonah 4:8), but this only illustrates more strikingly the greatness of our Father's mind. He can prepare the worm, and He can prepare the wind, and make them both work together to achieve His great designs.
Jehovah can tell the number of the stars, and while He does so He can take knowledge of a falling sparrow. He can make the whirlwind His chariot, and a broken heart His dwelling place. Nothing is great or small with God. The believer, therefore, must be mindful that God can use everything to accomplish His purposes in us and for us. We may pass through the same circumstances and encounter the same trials as other people; but we must not meet them in the same way. We should be listening for the voice of God and heed His message in the most trifling as well as in the most momentous occurrences of the day.
—C.H. Mackintosh, condensed