The Jonah Syndrome

I’ll never forget a minister who came to work at our church when I was younger. They felt that God had called them to our town and our church. Not long after they had uprooted their family from their hometown and moved to ours, things started to go wrong. Their car broke down, the AC in the house went out, etc. It seemed that for a year nothing went right and everything was against them. They concluded that they missed God and weren’t supposed to be there. They resigned and moved back to where they lived before.

I remember talking to them about it, and decided to label it Jonah Syndrome. They believed if bad things were happening, they must have missed God or disobeyed Him. My response was that bad things happen, and that it could be an attack to try to make them ineffective at what God had called them to do. To this day, I believe they didn’t think that bad things happen to people who are in the will of God. Unfortunately, there are a lot of us who believe that. The truth is that we need to get rid of the Jonah Syndrome.

All of the early disciples, and most of the Early Church, suffered hardships. Paul was beaten, shipwrecked, left for dead and had disagreements with the leadership of the Church. Bad things happened to him constantly in the New Testament. He even had one nagging problem that he said was a “thorn in his flesh”. He asked God to resolve and remove the problem, but God didn’t. Instead, in 2 Corinthians 12, He replied to Paul, “My grace is sufficient” (AMP).

I like how Psalm 34:19 says, “Good people suffer many troubles, but the Lord saves them from them all” (GNT). You and I are going to go through suffering and have our own thorns in the flesh. It doesn’t mean we are not in God’s will, it means that we need to learn to trust His grace. Jonah was running from his calling. That’s why he suffered. If you’re trying to do what God called you to and you’re running into troubles, ask God for His grace to help you endure. It could be that you’re on the edge of a breakthrough and the enemy is trying to stop you. Above all, seek God’s wisdom in the matter and trust His answer.


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7 responses to “The Jonah Syndrome

  1. steve gryseels

    My father gave me some sound advise when starting a new ministry and that was to give it five years and fight through the tough times. It is surprising that the teaching you referred to is still going on.  You can listen to those same “blab it and grab it” preachers today and it is the same single focused message.  You know they would say you just spoke problems in your life. ☺

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    • Very wise advice. I feel like God uses the struggle to strengthen us and to smooth off rough edges. I remember my dad taught that one of the sins of society is wealth without work. That’s crept into the church in the form of success without struggle or prayer. God continuously speaks to me about remaining faithful in the small things even in the struggles. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Michele

    A young woman who was recovering from substance abuse, just joined our church and accepted Jesus as her Savior .
    She had her child taken away also and placed with her mom,
    She was missing from church Sunday, I enquirered about her with the woman who first brought her to our church,.
    She told me….her apartment had burned down, she lost her job, her mom
    And her had a bad argument and were not speaking
    She is now living in a shelter and will not speak to anyone
    The enemy is real….but I know she is now a child of God
    and He is working it out
    And to God be the Glory….she is going to have an amazing testimony….
    please keep her in your prayers

  3. Michele

    Thank you very much

  4. anthony{tony} klovensky


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