Life isn’t always rainbows and sunshine.
Sometimes, life can feel hellish. Whether it’s just getting through another day, family, or financial troubles, or just all the clouds in the sky are grey… Life isn’t always a beach.
What do you do when the world isn’t your oyster?
Who do you turn to?
How do you get through?
Where do you see the light at the end of the tunnel? Can we count on that light?
My message to you today is simply this: do not despair. Even when hope seems slim and you are in your darkest hour, God does not forsake us, and we are never alone.
As we read Chapter two of Jonah, this prophet of God is in what I call a low moment. After running away from God’s command to go and preach to Nineveh by jumping on a ship sailing in the opposite direction – Jonah’s great idea leads him to be thrown off the boat into a sea during a nightmarish storm.
Once thrown out, the storm quiets down and the sailors who had hurled Jonah into the broiling waves worshiped the Lord. Leaving Jonah, not to drown to death, but to be swallowed by a very large fish or perhaps a massive whale.
For three days, Jonah is in the belly of the beast.
And inside the fish, he prays to God:
“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! You threw me into the ocean depths, and I sank down to the heart of the sea. The mighty waters engulfed me; I was buried beneath your wild and stormy waves.
Then I said, ‘O Lord, you have driven me from your presence. Yet I will look once more toward your holy Temple.’ I sank beneath the waves, and the waters closed over me. Seaweed wrapped itself around my head. I sank down to the very roots of the mountains. I was imprisoned in the earth, whose gates lock shut forever.
But you, O Lord my God, snatched me from the jaws of death! As my life was slipping away, I remembered the Lord. And my earnest prayer went out to you in your holy Temple. Those who worship false gods turn their backs on all God’s mercies. But I will offer sacrifices to you with songs of praise, and I will fulfill all my vows. For my salvation comes from the Lord alone.”
There is vivid imagery in this prayer delineating Jonah’s grave experience. This is not simply a metaphor… This is a prayer about a man encountering a life-and-death moment.
He felt like he was about to die, completely helpless to save himself from an almost-certain end.
But God rescued him. God saw him and chose to have compassion upon Jonah. I suppose, if we’ve heard this story before, we don’t consider being swallowed by a whale an act of mercy, but it was a part of God’s plan.
For God did not forget Jonah, for the fish spit him out a few days later onto dry land for him to finish his journey.
God still had a plan for his prophet and was still wanting to use Jonah to deliver a message of repentance to the Assyrians.
God does not forget you either and has a plan for your life.
Stop, listen, and pray.
You may feel today as if the world is against you and you’ve been tossed about, struggling just to hang on.
You may feel as if you are drowning, as Jonah was, facing certain doom.
Or you may feel stuck, like being in the belly of a whale… knowing what God wants you to do next but not quite feeling ready to do whatever radical thing he has called you to do.
You are not alone. Seek after your savior, for he searches to strengthen those who are committed to him with all their hearts (2 Chronicles 12:9).
Do not despair today, for the God of the universe hears your prayers.
In love and truth,
Copyright © 2021 by Melody Turner. All rights reserved. Written exclusively for MXTV (mxtv.org/blog) No part of this article may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from MXTV.