“I cried out to the Lord in my great trouble, and He answered me. I called to You from the land of the dead, and Lord, You heard me.” (Jonah 2:1-2 NLT)
It’s one of the best things about a trial by fire — or in Jonah’s case, a swallowing-by-sea-monster. When you think you’re dying — when you ARE dying — almost everything suddenly becomes totally unimportant. Except for the stuff that really is.
All the misplaced priorities, all the distractions, all the excuses get swept away. So do your pretences and defenses. Along with your ideas about cleaning yourself off, pulling yourself together, getting yourself in a better place before you reconnect with God.
Yeah, no time for that now. Not when the waves are sweeping over you. Not when you’ve got seaweed wrapped around your head. (Jonah 2:5)
You gotta get real right quick. You use whatever breath you have left to cry out to God to save you. To rescue you. To forgive you.
“The ‘right time’ is now. Today is the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 6:2 NLT)
The answer comes so fast, it’s like He’s been right there waiting the whole time for you to say something. Just waiting for you to get to that point where you’d ask Him — invite Him in. He’s THAT eager to connect (or reconnect) with you.
Think about that for a minute.
How would you feel if it seemed someone had to be desperate to want to reach out to you? If they had to think they were dying before they’d ask for your help?
I might be so hurt and offended, I let them drown.
But it doesn’t seem to hurt or offend God that that’s often what it takes.
“As a father has compassion on His children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him. He knows how we are formed, remembers that we are dust.” (Psalm 103:13-14 NIV)
That was Jonah’s experience. He cried out to God as he was sinking into the depths of the sea, into the belly of the whale or the fish or whatever. As he was dying — spiritually, physically, literally or metaphorically. He humbled himself. He confessed his sin. He confessed his need. And instantly God heard him. Instantly God answered him. Instantly (well, almost instantly) God delivered him. God set him free.
Free from far more than death or the fish or the depths of the sea.
Think about the power that gave Jonah’s testimony. Now he could preach repentance to the people of Ninevah with some serious authenticity.
I know he’s been preaching to me.
This week’s Virtual VBS for GrownUp Girls Assignment:
Read: Jonah 2 (again), Psalm 51:1-17, and Micah 6:8. As you read the Scriptures in Psalms and Micah, think about how they relate to the story of Jonah — and his prayer. Especially consider what the psalmist says about sacrifices, and what kind of vows or promises he makes in verses 13-17. In light of this, what kind of sacrifices and/or vows did Jonah ultimately make? What does God ask of us today? How might this apply to you personally? What would it look like in your life?
Memorize: Jonah 2:8-9
Discussion Question: Have you ever felt like Jonah — like you were dying, drowning, deep down in the pit (metaphorically or otherwise)? What is your testimony — your story?