Daily Devotionals

I, Like Jonah – Part Two 

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Scripture: Then the Lord sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up. All the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god…. But Jonah had gone below deck, where he lay down and fell into a deep sleep. The captain went to him and said, ‘How can you sleep? Get up and call on your God….’ ‘Pick me up and throw me into the sea,’ [Jonah replied], ‘and it will become calm. I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you.’ Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm. At this the [pagan sailors] greatly feared the LORD, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows to Him. But the LORD provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights.” – Jonah 1: 4-5, 12, 15-17 (NIV)

 

Draw the velvet curtains from the cinema screen in your mind. This biblical story maximizes on drama, a twisted plot, and an eclectic cast of characters– all making it seem more like Friday night entertainment than a relatable lesson for our daily lives. The story opens with a wayward prophet, who meets a bunch of pagan sailors aboard a ship, which nearly snaps in two when God stirs the seas until an oversized fish swallows Jonah whole and houses the castaway for three days. 

 

Can you relate? Nope, I can’t say I do. However, there is divine purpose in all scripture, not just some of it. Open your Bible with me, and let’s sift through these verses like sands on a seashore. God surely has a message for each of us in this miraculous story. 

 

Observation #1: When Jonah chose to ignore God, he found himself in the midst of a raging storm. Have you ever been there? I, like Jonah, know that God is omnipresent and omniscient; however, when sinfulness skews my heart and logic, I can easily find myself hiding from Him. Then, along come life’s storms. Sometimes, these are just circumstantial… but other times, they are brought on by my poor choices. 

 

Observation #2: One wouldn’t expect a man chosen by God as a prophet to be so blind to troubles that threaten his life and others as well. But when I, like Jonah, stray from God’s presence, my heart too can become hardened until I find myself falling down, down, down into a deep sleep of unawareness. In moments like this, I must pray for God to awaken my soul!

 

Observation #3: A true confession is very powerful. Once Jonah is awakened to his sinfulness, he openly confessed what was his fault and his fault alone. I, like Jonah, can be reluctant in my confessions, yet our God forgives when we are honest with him! 

 

Observation #4: What may seem to some like a whale of a problem could very well be God’s saving grace. I, like Jonah, need to shift my perspective to notice God’s hand in my life. A mountain may actually be a molehill that God helps me overcome to build my character. A glass half empty could offer space for God’s greatness to fill. And an open-mouthed whale could be his vessel to carry me home. 

 

Observation #5: No matter how obstinate I can be about following God’s direction, his purposes will still come to fruition. In spite of Jonah’s rejections, God turned the hearts of pagans toward him and set a wayward prophet back on the right path. I, like Jonah, need to relinquish control, repent, and return to God, who will work all things for good. 

 

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I am forever in awe of your love and grace. Thank you for teaching me a little more about Jonah, whom I now find a little bit like me. Amen.  

 

Submitted by Caroline C. Bennett