When I say “Jonah and the _______” you probably filled in the blank with the word, whale. We all remember that part of the story but here is what happened first. Jonah found himself in the middle of the depths of the sea. The boat he was on has sailed away. He is completely by himself. As a sailor I can tell you that there are very few things which are more frightening than this. And frightening at the level of a death threat hanging over you every moment and that is all you can think about. So Jonah began to pray. “Dear God, please save me.”
And then God delivered an island to Jonah in the form of a fish. It swallowed him up. And there he found himself in this air bubble in the great beast. And for the moment he was saved though he might not have been thinking of it quite that way. It would have been black as asphalt in there. Digestive juices were eating away at his skin. Lord only knows what else was in there with him. All alone without another human with whom to talk. No way to lie down and rest from his troubles. And still the fear of death from minute to minute.
And Jonah, in the midst of his troubles, came to understand that God was in charge. All he had to do was believe what the Lord told him. And how more fortunate are we that Jesus came to tell us what to do in order to find our way to a heaven that didn’t count on us. We in the boiling pot of our lives just had to believe in Him and what he said.
Then after three days the fish spit him out. Not into the middle of the sea again as would be normal, but onto dry land, like a ferry boat coming onto Staten Island or Coronado.
So when your life stinks, and you are waist deep in fish guts, things are dark as midnight, and you can’t see a way out, maybe the very trouble you are facing is actually the thing which is going to save you. The fish could have chewed 32 times before swallowing after all.
by Bob Bekins, November 2013