Jonah’s disobedience to God was not paying off. Things kept going from bad to worse. The ship Jonah was on takes a direct hit from a violet storm. When the men on board discover Jonah is the problem, he tells them to throw him overboard.
I wonder what Jonah was thinking when he hit the water. My guess is he was thinking about his last words. Then just when he was thinking it was all over, suddenly he gets swallowed by a big old giant fish. We’ll call it the BFE—Big Fish Express.
Now Jonah probably really thinks it’s over. What a way to go–as fish food. But God has other plans. He’s not through with Jonah yet.
Inside the belly of this fish, Jonah has a heart-to-heart with God. Let’s eavesdrop on his prayer.
“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. I said, ‘I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple.’ The engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head. To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever. But you, Lord my God, brought my life up from the pit.” Jonah 2:3-6
It’s crazy the messes we can get ourselves into. And it’s even more mind boggling that God can take our worst messes and turn them into some of the greatest messages– if we let Him.
God will often go to drastic measures to get our attention. I mean, God could have given up on Jonah, let him drown, moved on, and called someone else to go to Nineveh. But He doesn’t do that. Why? Because He loves Jonah. God’s love is drastic. After all, it’s pretty drastic that He sent his one and only Son to pay for our sins and die on the cross in our place. God doesn’t give up on us. And He doesn’t give up on Jonah either.
The Bible also says that the Lord disciplines those He loves.
“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” Hebrews 12:5-6
Jonah seems to realize that he got himself into this mess and that the Lord was disciplining him for his disobedience.
Ever tried really hard to make something happen, and you know you are not in God’s will and you just keep hitting a brick wall? Obstacle after obstacle stands in your way. And everything within you is trying to fight through it. Then you find yourself flat on your back.
I know I sure have. Many times.
But when you find yourself in a tough place, it might be wise to examine why you are in the pit you are in. The cause of your trouble might be YOU. We all have been given the freedom to make choices, but we don’t have the freedom to determine the outcome of those choices.
Ravi Zacharias says, “Consequences are bound to the choices you make. You can have your choice, but you cannot choose your consequence.”
“When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, Lord, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple. Those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God’s love for them. 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.’ ” Jonah 2:7-9
Jonah has some time in that fish’s belly to be still and remember that God is God and he is not. He thought his way was better than God’s way. The root of Jonah’s problem was pride.
Spending time in God’s presence, even deep inside a stinky fish’s belly, begins to refocus Jonah’s perspective. Prayer has a beautiful way of doing that. I love how Jonah’s prayer ends. He humbles himself before the Lord. Then he praises God “with shouts of grateful praise” from inside the that fish’s belly. He doesn’t wait until he gets out of the fish to praise the Lord. He praises Him while he’s still deep inside that dark place.
Praise is a powerful weapon when you are stuck in a pit.
“And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.” Jonah 2:10
God calls him a second time to go and preach to the people of Nineveh. God still wanted to use Jonah, even after all the mistakes he made. Jonah gets a do-over.
And God still wants to use you too. He wants to give you a do-over. No matter how bad you’ve messed up or how far you’ve tried to run from Him. He wants you to run home to Him. He will even take your mess and turn it into a message.
Every day of life is another opportunity for a do-over. His mercies are new every morning.
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23
Yes, His love is drastic.