In every storm and in every bewildering environment of your life, God’s chief desire is that you cry out to Him. When you find yourself in a place of terror and solitary confinement, God wants your attention. He simply wants to hear your voice amid the wind and the waves. He longs to be your ultimate comfort and safe shelter. And when you at last respond to the God of Jonah, you, too, will experience a divine “Aha!” moment that will change the trajectory of your life.
Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the stomach of the fish, and he said, “I called out of my distress to the Lord, and He answered me. I cried for help from the depth of Sheol; You heard my voice. For You had cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the current engulfed me. All Your breakers and billows passed over me. So I said, ‘I have been expelled from Your sight. Nevertheless I will look again toward Your holy temple.’” (Jonah 2:1–4)
Jonah had been about one gulp of salt water away from death when God rescued him. The waves had covered him and he was rapidly descending into the deepest and darkest part of the sea. There was no rescue boat on the way or safety net in sight—but God reached down from heaven, scooped Jonah up, and placed him safely in the belly of a very large fish!
The Lord will never give up on one of His very own who has the humility and honesty to say, “I’m sorry, Father. It was my fault.” At the very instant that Jonah uttered those unpretentious yet revealing words to God, the rescue began! Likewise, your rescue will begin when you follow Jonah’s example and declare to God—and to others—“I’m sorry. It was my fault.”
God is a pursuer, and He will track you down with creative resolve and unimaginable wit. As the storm was calming down, the sailors were worshipping, and Jonah was spitting out seaweed, I wonder if God looked over to the angel on His left and said, “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet!”
The truth is that God will, indeed, rescue you—but the entire truth is that it may not be in the way you envisioned. Your heavenly Father will certainly send someone or something to get you back on His track for your life, but at first you may not recognize that particular someone or something as being heaven-sent. You might even believe that your situation has gone from bad to worse, as I’m sure Jonah felt in his case!
If Jonah had imagined he would be given a way of escape, he might have envisioned the sailors throwing him a life preserver as the storm calmed down—but no, that didn’t happen. Next, he might have imagined a small fishing boat coming his way with a beautiful girl at the helm—but no, that didn’t happen. As the minutes went by, perhaps Jonah dreamed of having super powers so he could miraculously fly from the middle of the ocean to dry ground—but no, that didn’t happen. God had a better idea! God sent a great fish to swallow the storm-tossed and very humbled Jonah.
Often, when I am in over my head, I am able to come up with all sorts of great ideas for God to solve the situation. Have you done the same? I create various scenarios that would work well for me, and it is my sad but true history that God has never yet accepted one of my brilliant ideas. Imagine that! God always has a way of escape for this soggy traveler that is very different from what I would have preferred in my wet state.
However, what I do know for Jonah is that there truly are much worse things in life than being swallowed by a massive fish. Never being caught by God would be infinitely worse than spending three nights in the belly of a blimp of a sea creature. Never saying yes to God would be so much more appalling than slogging around in rotting fish guts for seventy-two hours of one’s life. Never again hearing the voice of God would be so much more ghastly than smelling the residue of an immense fish’s dinner from the night before. Never again being used by God would be so much more nauseating than walking around with the vomit of a marine critter on your tunic.
Our God is a God who pursues. When we cry out to Him, in spite of our attempts to run away from Him, He is on His way to capture us in His love once again. Just ask Jonah!
Did you enjoy this blog post? Then you will love Carol McLeod’s book Stormproof.