Yesterday we left Jonah as he got on a ship headed for anywhere but Ninevah. Anywhere but where God told him to go. And if you’ve read the rest of the story, you know it didn’t work out so well for Jonah.
A great storm arose and threatened to destroy the ship. The crew became angry with Jonah. “So they asked him, “Tell us, who is responsible for making all this trouble for us? What do you do? Where do you come from?” (Jonah 1:8) They were mad, and they wanted someone to be held accountable for the problems they now faced.
Real life gut check: When we run from God, run away from His will for our lives, big BIG problems can threaten to break us – and those around us – into tiny little unable to function pieces. And if the problems don’t crush us, our attitudes, decisions and actions will because those are coming from our feelings not from God.
Jonah tells them he serves God the creator of the sea and the land. So the crew asks him “What should we do to you to make the sea calm down for us?” (Jonah 1:11) Jonah could have said “Oh just pray with me awhile,” but he didn’t. He knew he couldn’t put those lives in jeopardy any longer.
“’Pick me up and throw me into the sea,’ he replied, ‘and it will become calm. I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you.’” (Jonah 1:12) When I read this the other day I thought how unbelievably refreshing! Here’s a guy with the whole world crashing in on him – people ganging up on him – and what did he do? Did he blame his parents? His siblings? His work? His God? Nope. He took full responsibility. He knew that his disobedience was causing HUGE problems for the people around him.
He must have been around a group of compassionate crewmen, because they did everything they could not to throw him into the angry water. When nothing else worked, they threw Jonah into the sea and it immediately calmed. The problem stopped when the responsible person was dealt with. Now I agree that was a pretty strong response but sometimes dire circumstances require forceful actions.
And as if Jonah’s day couldn’t get worse, “the Lord provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights.” (Jonah 1:17) I’m fairly certain if you asked Jonah what was the absolute worst day of his life, the day he ran away from God, got on a ship, sailed in a violent storm, got thrown overboard by the crew, struggled to swim and not drown and finally got swallowed up by a whale would win the prize hands down.
Tomorrow we will look at the rest of Jonah’s story. But for today, ponder this: How do I respond to the worst possible day in my life?
Jonah gives us the plan to follow.