Jonah is Powerless — Step 1

STEP 1: We admitted we were powerless over our addictions and compulsive behaviors, that our lives had become unmanageable.

I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. Romans 7:18

God called Jonah to warn the people of Nineveh that they faced destruction if they refused to repent of their sins, but Jonah wanted God to destroy the wicked Assyrian capital. Jonah didn’t want to give the people an opportunity to repent so he boarded a boat and sailed in the opposite direction of Nineveh.

When Jonah made this choice, he was not the only person to suffer. The life of every other person on Jonah’s ship was threatened by the great storm that God sent. Terrified, the sailors sought the guilty party, and Jonah quickly suggested that he be thrown overboard. It seems Jonah would rather risk his life than to obey God and do as He commanded. God had to put Jonah in the belly of a great fish for three days to get his attention. In the end, Jonah finally admitted that he was helpless and asked God for deliverance. Even though Jonah refused to obey God, God never gave up on Jonah.

How much is this story like us when we are wrapped up in our addictions or compulsive behaviors? We know what God wants us to do, but instead we continue to tell ourselves our way is right, that we can handle it, and continue in our unmanageable and destructive ways. God may have even sent a storm or other consequences our way in an effort to get us to reconsider and yet so many times we chose to stay stuck in our unhealthy rebellion—even possibly risking our lives. Just like with Jonah, these choices not only hurt us, but the people around us as well.

None of us likes to be powerless; however, it is only when we acknowledge our powerlessness that recovery can begin. In the darkness inside the fish, Jonah realized how helpless he was. It was there that he finally turned to God and received his help. As we recognize our helplessness, we too can receive the help God offers. Only he can redeem and deliver us from our addiction, dependency or compulsion. If we try to go it alone, relying only on our own will, we are headed for disaster.

Jonah’s Key Verse for Step 1

I cried out to the Lord in my great trouble, and he answered me. I called to you from the land of the dead, and Lord, you heard me. Jonah 2:2 (NTL)

Examine Your Heart

  1. Has God ever brought a storm to your life in an effort to get you to reconsider your choices? Do you look back on this and consider it a beneficial experience?
  2. Like the sailors in Jonah’s story, who are some of the people your addiction or compulsive behaviors affected?
  3. Do you find strength in admitting your powerlessness? Why or why not?

Learn More

This story comes from the first three chapters of Jonah. The book of Jonah is located on page 1132 of the second edition of The Life Recovery Bible. The book of Jonah offers the following recovery themes: God Delivers the Powerless, Keeping God’s Priorities, God’s Patience, and Forgiveness of Everyone.

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