On this journey on fulfilling his calling, God took Jonah away from his past success in ministry. God took Jonah away from his future hopes and dreams of something better. God wanted to get Jonah alone, in the present moment, so that he might rest in Him. And so, Jonah gets swallowed by the giant fish.
I went through a period last year where I was doing very little ministry; and all the while being in my first year of marriage. God was using both of these events to keep me in the belly of the fish, constantly making me aware of my sinfulness and my need for Him (marriage will do that). Sometimes we get so caught up in what we are doing, even if it’s something good, that we miss what God is doing. We need Him to take us into the belly of the fish, to humble us and remind us of our need for Him. When the storms of lives have brought us to our lowest point, prayer is our only option. And so, Jonah prays.
1 From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God. 2 He said:
‘In my distress I called to the Lord,
and he answered me.
From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help,
and you listened to my cry.
3 You hurled me into the depths,
into the very heart of the seas,
and the currents swirled about me;
all your waves and breakers
swept over me.
4 I said, “I have been banished
from your sight;
yet I will look again
towards your holy temple.”
5 The engulfing waters threatened me,
the deep surrounded me;
seaweed was wrapped around my head.
6 To the roots of the mountains I sank down;
the earth beneath barred me in for ever.
But you, Lord my God,
brought my life up from the pit.
7 ‘When my life was ebbing away,
I remembered you, Lord,
and my prayer rose to you,
to your holy temple.
8 ‘Those who cling to worthless idols
turn away from God’s love for them.
9 But I, with shouts of grateful praise,
will sacrifice to you.
What I have vowed I will make good.
I will say, “Salvation comes from the Lord.”’
10 And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.
What this prayer shows is that Jonah needed the the good news of God to penetrate his heart before he could go to the Ninevites. That’s why God got him in the belly of the fish, so that he would emerge a new man, resurrected, humbled by the gross stench of stomach acids and the drenching dews of fish guts. But nevertheless, enlightened, and right with God. Talk about power being made perfect in weakness!
Have you gone through the belly of the fish? Do you need to?
To Be Continued…