Second Chances

"Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time: 'Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.'"1

I think most of us enjoy the story of "Jonah and the Whale (Great Fish)." Jonah was commissioned by God to go to Nineveh and warn the people that if they didn't repent of their wicked, sinful ways, God would destroy them. Jonah didn't like these people and didn't want God to save them, so he boarded a ship and went off in the opposite direction. But God sent a great storm "to shake Jonah up." However, all aboard the ship were terrified for their lives. When Jonah admitted he was the cause of the storm, the sailors threw him overboard.

But God in his mercy sent a big fish to swallow Jonah. Had God not done this, without a doubt Jonah would have drowned. On the third day, Jonah repented and God caused the great fish to vomit him up on a beach. After Jonah repented and God rescued him, God commissioned him a second time.

Having worked in the area of recovery for a number of years, and specifically in the area of divorce and grief recovery over the past decade, I have seen too many individuals rush into a second marriage without resolving the issues that caused their first marriage to fail—and then see their second marriage and, for some, their third marriage fail.

What many fail to realize is that, in all of life (not just marriage), what we fail to resolve we are destined to repeat ... repeat ... repeat ... until we get it right!

The good news is that no matter how many times we fail, God in his mercy and infinite patience will give us a second, third, fourth, fifth, ad infinitum opportunity to get things right. However, once we get it right, we don't have to go through the same failure again!

This is why I encourage divorcees (and others who have failed in other situations) to resolve the issues in their life that caused their marriage or situation to fail so they won't have to go through the same terrible experience. God wants us to recover, heal and become whole so we won't keep hurting ourselves—and others. Like Jonah, God will keep giving us as many opportunities as we need so we will get it right. That means quitting the blame game, admitting and facing our personal problems, and getting into recovery.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to admit every failure in my life and help me to see the causes behind these failures, and lead me to the help I need to resolve these issues and recover so I can move on with my life in more creative and wholesome ways. Please help me to use every one of my failures as an opportunity to grow and become a better, healthier, more God-honoring person. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."

1. Jonah 3:1-2 (NIV).