Hunkered Down Devotion

Jonah 1:17-2:2 (Voice)
1:17 The Eternal didn’t let Jonah die. He chose a large fish to swallow Jonah; for three days and three nights the prophet Jonah sat safely inside the belly of this fish.
2:1 To his God, the Eternal, Jonah prayed from inside this great fish.
2 Jonah: With desperate cries I beckoned the Eternal to hear, and He answered me.
 From the belly, the place of death, I cried out to You, and You have responded to my voice.

While the story of Jonah may be a familiar one to many of us it is worth revisiting.  First, it might not be quite as familiar as we think.  As this passage notes despite what our collective memories tell us, there is no ‘whale’ in the story.  Rather, we are told that it is a ‘large fish’ – which, to be fair, could be a whale – that God sends to save Jonah from what seemed sure to be a watery grave.  

Instead, it seems as those he is destined to die instead the internal organs of this fish, and while contemplating his imminent demise, Jonah makes a choice.  In spite of the fact that he has gotten himself into this situation because he has made the conscious choice to turn from God’s call and go against God’s direction in his life, Jonah calls out to God.  

Maybe he thinks its worth a shot and he has nothing left to lose, or maybe – and, I actually think the rest of the witness of the book of Jonah points to this as the more likely scenario, maybe Jonah really believes that even now, God will still listen, and God can still help.

So Jonah calls out, in his own words, ‘with desperate cries’, and then – while he is still in the belly of the fish, a place he calls ‘the place of death’ – he proclaims in faith that God has responded to his voice.  His situation hasn’t actually changed yet, but because of his believe in God’s goodness and grace, he knows it will.

This story is a reminder for us of a few important things.  First, God cares about us, the situations we find ourselves in and how we are doing.   Second, God listens to us when we call out to him.  Third, there is no place, even ‘the place of death’ that we might find ourselves that God can’t reach or extract us from.  Fourth, with God it is never too late to turn around and make the right choice to follow God and choose to walk in the way that God calls us to.  Finally, it is a reminder that God’s grace, love, and rescue for us does not depend on us.  It isn’t something we have to or could earn, but rather it is a gift that we are given by the God who loves and is faithful to us.  

Sharing God’s Love,

Prayer: Lord, thank you for hearing our cry, even when we run from you. Help us to
follow your call. Amen.

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