Taken at face value, Jonah’s story may feel a bit unrelatable. Have you ever been called to go preach to an entire city? I haven’t. Have you ever been thrown overboard during a storm to prevent a shipwreck? Me either. Swallowed by a fish? Didn’t think so. We often remember Jonah for the more spectacular aspects of his story, but we actually find ourselves in what lies beneath them.
Most of us haven’t been called by God to preach to an entire city, but we know what it is like to resist the guidance God has so clearly conveyed, running away from God rather than walking with Him. And while we don’t know the desperation of being cast into a stormy, swelling sea, we’re familiar with the kind of fear that would lead us to feel justified throwing someone else overboard. We definitely don’t know what it is like to be swallowed by a fish, but I’m going to venture to say we all know the desperation that permeates Jonah’s prayer in chapter 2. Today, you may find yourself calling out to the Lord in distress, feeling as if trouble is circling closer and closer while God seems more and more distant. If that’s where you are today, then know that God is not threatened by your honesty or put off by your desperation. Know that your testimony can be the same as Jonah’s, “When my life was fainting away, I remembered the LORD, and my prayer came to you, into your holy temple” (Jonah 2:7).
Is there pain or fear or anger or grief that you need to bring before the Lord today? May your prayer come to Him. Have you been running from the presence of the Lord? May your prayer come to Him. Is the voice of anxiety drowning out all rivals? May you once again find the voice of thanksgiving in the presence of the God who saves.