Let’s continue on the journey with Jonah. In the first chapter, he runs from God and is eventually swallowed by the big fish. He hangs out in fish guts for three days and nights and then he starts talking to God.
Can we just take a moment to acknowledge that a prophet, the person who God had selected to be his mouthpiece, threw a whole temper tantrum? Jonah ran away and when he was caught, he shut down and likely sulked for days. Whenever I think about that, I start judging Jonah. I’m amazed that this person who was able to hear God’s voice so clearly responded to him so poorly. That is, until I realize that I do the exact same thing. I’m really good at running and skilled in the art of avoidance.
Jonah was wrestling with things in his heart that he likely wasn’t ready to deal with and, as a result, he shut down. God, of course, was there, but Jonah wasn’t willing to bring those places of pain, anger, and hurt to the surface. I doubt that he wanted healing. Being swallowed by a fish wasn’t enough of a “rock bottom” for him, he needed to sit in the filth for a little while.
“But you, Lord my God,
brought my life up from the pit.
“When my life was ebbing away,
I remembered you, Lord,
and my prayer rose to you,
to your holy temple.
“Those who cling to worthless idols
turn away from God’s love for them.
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 2:6b-9 (NIV)
Jonah begins to pray, acknowledging the goodness of God and promises to fulfill his vow. He doesn’t say the word “repent” in this prayer, but this, to me, is an example of a prayer of repentance. He recognizes God’s sovereignty in his life and then chooses to follow God instead of going his own way. He turns around from his former behavior and submits.
The more that I pray about the current season that we find ourselves in, the more I relate to Jonah and his predicament in the belly of the fish. He was left alone to think, think, and think some more. He looked inside of himself even when it wasn’t pretty and the Lord met him in that vulnerable place. The fish’s belly was an invitation for healing and freedom and I believe this season is the same for us.
2020 has been a heartbreaking and gut-wrenching year, yet I believe that God is still working. I believe he is still calling us to himself. And, I know for me, this has been a refining moment. The things that I was putting my trust in instead of God have been stripped away, and my reliance upon him is only growing. He has exposed things that have been lurking in my heart for years that I likely wouldn’t have seen otherwise. I know he has been calling me to a deeper level of repentance and is showering me with buckets of forgiveness.
I’m grateful that God continues to pursue disobedient people, showing us his unmerited favor and grace.
Have you ever thrown a temper tantrum at God? (No judgment, I know I have)
Do you see this year as a year of refinement?
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