It took me a few minutes to wrap my brain around this, but check it out.
2“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.
I said, ‘I have been banished
from your sight;
yet I will look again
toward your holy temple.’
5 The engulfing waters threatened me,[b]
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 forever.
But you, Lord my God,
brought my life up from the pit.” (Jonah 2:2-6)
It took me a few minutes to wrap my brain around this, but check it out. Jonah is praying from inside the fish, right? Yet he says, “In my distress I called to the LORD, and he answered me.” At first I thought maybe this was Jonah writing down his prayer after the fact… but no. Instead it says that Jonah called for help, God listened, and hurled him into the depths.
Now that’s some tough love! Many of us might think, with a God like that, who needs enemies? Yet, that wasn’t how Jonah responded. Jonah saw this ordeal as his salvation. Jonah recognized (and was thankful for) God’s sovereignty in all of this. He knew he was disobedient. He knew he was suffering as a result of his own choices. He knew he DESERVED what he was experiencing… but he also understood that God sent the fish to save him.
I don’t know that I have that much clarity when I’m facing storms in my own life.
First of all, my initial reaction isn’t to examine my own heart and see if my sin might be to blame for my predicament (although it should be). It’s so much easier to blame someone else! I’m praying that God might tender my heart to recognize the places where I need to repent… to call my sin what it is – black, ugliness that crucified my LORD and gets in between Him and me.
And then there’s the fish itself. How many times has my heavenly Father sent difficult circumstances into my life and I just viewed them as punishment, or a cross to bear, rather than recognizing that He had a purpose in each one of them and a plan to grow my faith and draw me closer to Him? Whether self-induced or not, God’s salvation often doesn’t look like I expect it to or think it should. I don’t always know it when I see it. And if I’m not careful, I think my view of my “salvation” can even become an idol. Anything that takes the place of God in my life, or becomes more important… that becomes a false God and robs me of an intimate relationship with my heavenly Father.
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.’” (Jonah 2:8-9)
Father, help me learn to surrender… to let go of my sinful tendencies and to give in to Your will for my life. Give me the courage even to surrender to the storms you send my way, and to trust that You are indeed working all things for my good. Help me to recognize that often, in those times when I’m being tossed about – even to the point of being terrified – I am actually experiencing Your salvation. What a tough concept that is to accept… even to grasp. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit so that the eyes of my heart can be enlightened, Father… and I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to You. You deserve nothing less. Amen.
Joining my lovely sisters in the She Reads Truth community for #shesharestruth. Check it out HERE.