The storm raged, the ship pitched, and then voices intruded on Jonah's troubled dreams. "Sir! Sir! Wake up--we are all going to die!! How can you sleep?" Sleep fled as Jonah sat up and looked into the rough, unshaven faces above him. Dark rings encircled bloodshot eyes, and instantly he knew these men had been hard at work for sometime to save this wildly dipping ship that he was traveling on. How had he slept through this? He knew it had to be sheer emotional exhaustion. "What- what is it that I can do to help?" He asked hesitantly. " Pray to your God that He will save us. This storm has come out of nowhere!! There were no warning signs in the sky, and we have fought several hours to save this ship, man", they shouted above the noise of the tumult of the sky overhead, " We have all been praying, and our gods have not seen fit to save us. We must try your god too, for now the ship is creaking dangerously. If your god does not answer either, we must cast lots to see who it is that has sinned against his god, and why this evil has come against us!" Jonah ran a hand through his tousled hair, and then rubbed his long, Jewish nose as worry lines creased his forehead. He did indeed know why this evil had caused these men to be in danger. God had asked him to go to
Jonah had thought when he was telling the men his story, he would rather die than go to
Three days he sat in the belly of that fish. The fish was alive and swam into the depths of the sea, yet Jonah, also alive, sat in utter darkness knowing death was eminent. There was no one to talk to, and it was horribly uncomfortable. The heat was almost unbearable, and the stench permeated every pore of his body. Bits broken down seaweed and fish clung to him, and every so often stomach acid would spray through the stomach chamber. It burnt Jonah's skin. Jonah felt, oh so alone. There was no-one that knew Jonah was even alive in the depths of the earth, so noone would try to help him. There was no chance noone could see him or even hear him. How could he have been reduced to such a sorry state?
Yet in his very aloneness, and the very depths of his despair, he realized he could be heard. He began to cry out to God. He began to repent and ask forgiveness. He began to worship God in that rank and desolate place. I quote Jonah's words, "When my soul fainted within me I remembered the LORD: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple." The same God that he could not run from, also found him here!! He was not alone!
The Bible says, "And the LORD spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land."
Jonah had to have been quite a sight--his skin probably discolored, clothing in tatters(if indeed any were left), and his odor had to have been quite atrocious. I am sure it would have probably taken time for the smell to wear off, and his skin probably never recovered. But his soul was rejuvenated! He had been heard! He had come out of the most dire circumstances alive, and he was ready to make some changes in his life--he was ready to be obedient!
Of course, we do see in the life of Jonah that in the midst of his triumphants, he still had things to learn. Yet, we also a patient God who saw worth in Jonah, and kept working with him. Does this remind you of anyone?
We can learn so much from Jonah. We also get things set in our head, and get bull-headed. God continues to call us and work with us. And when we are in the lowest, darkest areas of our life, he still finds us, and he HEARS us. We each time might come out with some battle-scars, but we can also be more effective for God. Remember, He knows where you are, and he HEARS you!