Then I said, ‘O Lord, you have driven me from your presence. Yet I will look once more toward your holy Temple.’
Book of Jonah 2:4, (NLT)
Have you ever been down? I mean really down. Like when the only direction left is up. Like you’ve even forgotten what ‘up’ is. That kind of down?
More than likely, the answer is “Yes”. People rarely come to the Glennon House Healing Ministry because they are having a good day. Ours is the doorway of last resort, opened by people who have exhausted all the usual avenues for help.
In short, we are here for people like Jonah.
The Book of Jonah is short—only four chapters—but it packs a lot of truth in a very short space. To summarize: God asks Jonah to do an impossible task. Jonah declines, runs away and gets swallowed by a big fish. After three stinky days the fish spits Jonah out on a beach, where God repeats His request. This time Jonah says “Yes”, and with God’s help accomplishes his task.
It’s an action packed story—so much so that Chapter two (ie: “Inside the fish belly” chapter) often gets ignored. And that’s a shame, because it’s amazing It’s Jonah’s prayer to God from inside the fish’s belly. I repeat. From inside the fish’s belly.
If twitter had existed back then, Jonah’s tweets would have started out as something like this: “It’s dark. It smells. I’m being digested.” But somehow in that stinky, scary darkness Jonah does a 180 in confidence in God. The result is one of the most inspiring prayers ever recorded. “I was buried beneath your wild and stormy waves…Yet I will look once more toward your holy Temple.” All this while he was still in the belly of the fish!
So what happened? What made Jonah turn from zero to hero while still inside the mammoth piece of sushi? Well, for one thing, he didn’t think God was punishing him. Yes, he’d messed up bigtime, but he realized that being in trouble didn’t mean God was angry with him. Jonah writes “But you, O Lord my God, snatched me from the jaws of death!” Jonah was still waist deep in stomach acid, but he knew that God was still standing beside him.
Another thing Jonah didn’t do was to compare himself to others. He didn’t, for example, focus on people who might have been in their fishes’ bellies for only one day instead of three, and wonder if God loved them better. No, Jonah knew that this was between him and God, period. He kept his eyes on God.
Finally, and most profoundly for me, Jonah announces that live or die, he is the Lord’s man. “For my salvation comes from the Lord alone”. Even if Jonah had spent three years instead of three days in the fish, he was not turning to other gods. He wasn’t giving up on God, because he knew God wasn’t giving up on him.
Are you in the fish’s belly? Do you feel like you are all alone in this, and that Jesus is either mad at you, or has abandoned you? If so, take heart. You are not alone. You are not abandoned. Most of all, you are still very much loved by God.
Don’t give up, even if you are up to your neck in fish guts. Our sovereign Lord is in control. Just trust Jesus, lift your eyes heavenward, and start tweeting.