I have a new favorite passage of scripture, but it’s a weird one to highlight:

But he (Jesus) answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. Matthew 12:39-40

This verse means so much to me because it shows how God stands outside of time. He sees the beginning, middle and end all  at once.  He used a man like Jonah, knowing that his example would be an illustration for His Son, Jesus, to use nearly 800 years later!

This is important for suicide loss survivors because we can often feel like our children’s lives were cut short and they cannot be used by God since it was their own doing. But take a closer look at Jonah’s life:

Did Jonah rebel against what God was asking him to do? Yes.

Did Jonah run from God? Yes.

Did Jonah try to hide from God? Yes.

Was Jonah angry at God? Yes.

Was Jonah convinced that death was the only answer? Yes.

Did God use all of this to His glory? Yes!

Jonah tried to hide. When he was found out, he asked to be killed. When his wish was granted by being thrown overboard he describes the experience of what it felt like to “die”. When God saved him by appointing a fish to swallow him whole for 3 days, he finally repents and does what God asks him to do. Or does he? His actions were those of obedience, but his attitude was still in rebellion.

3 Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” And the Lord said, “Do you do well to be angry?” Jonah 4:3-4

When God asks if Jonah thinks his anger is warranted He gets no answer the first time. When God asks him a second time, Jonah is brazen enough to debate with God:

 But God said to Jonah, “Do you do well to be angry …?” And he said, “Yes, I do well to be angry, angry enough to die.” Jonah 4:9

Jonah hated his given circumstances. He was mad at God about what was happening, mad enough to say he was right and God was wrong. He kept company with Moses who said, “Kill me now.”

This little four-chapter Book of Jonah is worth reading on your own. In it you will see the sovereignty of God that has ministered to me in Tristan’s loss. But what God brought to my attention this time was the fact that while Jonah was such a flawed person, he was chosen by God for a specific purpose. That purpose continued on after his death just as it was said of Abel, “and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks.” Heb 11:4.

Our children may have ran from what God called them to do (live). They certainly were sinners, as we all are, yet God appoints sinners for His purposes and even ordained Jonah’s actions to be a part of the story of Christ. Eight hundred years later Jesus uses Jonah’s disobedient life as a sign. Three days, three nights. I bet Jonah never guessed his time spent in the belly of a big fish was preordained to be an illustration for use by our precious Savior.

Dear God, my Tristan was not second-best. His life was not second-best even though it feels wasted and thwarted. I wish he was still here to live with us and for You. He’s not with us, but he is living for You, WITH you. Please help me to want to live for You, too. I so just want us all to be there together. Use me as you use Tristan. And please, come quickly! In Jesus name, Amen.