We know the story. Jonah refused the assignment God gave him. He didn’t’ just dig in his heels, he ran in the opposite direction. God pursued him with all the forces of nature, which included a massive storm and a huge fish.
What we read next is a little puzzling. Jonah prays a long extended prayer, not of supplication, but of thanksgiving! This gives new meaning to the phrase “Where there’s life there’s hope.”
Imagine it with me. Jonah assumes he is a dead man. Into the raging sea he is thrown, sinking down to the depths. Amazingly, a huge fish swallows him and his journey continues. Whether Jonah is too dazed to be aware or barely conscience we don’t know, but after three days he realizes what he has been through, and is thankful to be alive. Notice, he doesn’t ask to be delivered from the fish. Yes, even if the rest of his days are spent in the belly of this fish, he is thankful to be alive. I really think Jonah assumed this was his new home.
But there is something else embedded in that prayer. . . God’s very real presence. After all, God is the one who had put him there. He might be in the belly of a whale, but God was with him and, for Jonah, that was enough. Jonah’s joy was not in his physical circumstances, but being in the presence of His God. He closes his prayer of thanksgiving with the phrase “Salvation is of the Lord.” God’s response to that acknowledgement? God commanded the fish to vomit him up. God showed Jonah such grace.
How does this apply to me? In the midst of my trouble am I thankful? Not thankful for the trouble, but thankful that I am still alive and that God is with me? My every breath is from him. Do I comprehend that? Do I fully understand that “Salvation is of the Lord?” Am I so distracted by my difficult/dangerous circumstances that I fail to see the more important fact that God is with me? If trouble comes am I prepared to be satisfied with God being with me in the trouble, not necessarily removing me from it?
“and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20b NASB)