Jonah | Day Six
By: Taylor Flatt
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Let’s start today with a creative exercise. Imagine you’re Jonah. You’ve run from God, gotten thrown out of a boat into a raging sea, and swallowed by a giant fish. And SOMEHOW you’re still alive.
You’re in the belly of this giant fish...what do you say to God?
I’m completely serious. Take sometime to think about it and maybe even write out a prayer of what you would say to God.
Now, can I just tell you what my prayer would be?
“GOD PLEASE HELP ME GET OUT OF THIS GIANT FISH!! I’M SORRY JUST PLEASE GET ME OUT OF HERE. PLEASE I WILL DO ANYTHING YOU WANT.”
And I would honestly probably just keep saying that over and over again pretty hysterically. And then after a day or so I would just assume that God probably couldn’t hear me or didn’t care. I would get frustrated.
I mean think about it. Jonah was in the fish for three days and three nights. That’s a long time to be in there! I can only imagine that Jonah started getting fearful that God had forgotten about him or that God couldn’t hear his cries.
Now, thankfully, Jonah doesn’t handle the situation the way that I would have. Jonah’s prayer to God is filled with humility and praise. There isn’t an ounce of fear or frustration.
Check it out.
Read Jonah 2:1-10.
What is the first thing that Jonah says God does for him?What did Jonah do when he felt driven from God’s sight?What is the “hope of steadfast love” that Jonah is talking about in verse 8?
Here’s what I love most about Jonah’s prayer to the Lord - he’s confident that the Lord hears his prayer.
When I’m in a terrible situation or I’m crying out for help from the Lord, it’s really easy to question if God is even hearing my prayer.
Have you ever been there? Have you ever asked yourself if God is even listening or if your prayers are just hitting the ceiling?
I know I’ve been there. It’s easy to get discouraged when you are praying to God and you feel like nothing is happening. But that’s why I love the story of Jonah.
Jonah’s prayer from the fish tells me three really important things about how God always hears us...
1. God hears us even in the midst of bleak circumstances.
Listen, I’ve been in bad situations before but let me just go ahead and be the first to say that it doesn’t get much worse than being alive and stuck inside of a giant fish in the middle of the sea. Jonah’s circumstances were bad. Things did not look good for him. Chances of survival were slim to none for poor Jonah. But even in the bleakest of circumstances God heard Jonah. If God can hear Jonah from the belly of a giant fish then I promise you that He can hear you right where you are today.
2. God hears us--even when we’ve sinned.
Jonah’s prayer is proof. Jonah knew that he had messed up and yet he cried out to God and God heard him. “Does my sin keep God from hearing me?” is a common question, but we need to know that your sin can’t stop God from hearing you when you cry out to Him in repentance.
3. God hears us even when He doesn’t act immediately.
How long do you think it took Jonah to get on his knees and pray that prayer? My guess it was at least in the first day, if not the first hour. But things didn’t immediately change for Jonah. He was in the fish for three whole days and three whole nights. And if I were Jonah I would be asking God what was taking Him so long. I would have been begging God to do something, anything! But God heard Jonah -- He was just waiting on His perfect timing. Jonah was in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights.
What does that remind you of?
It wasn’t an accident that God left him in the fish for the exact same amount of time that Jesus was in the grave. God was telling a story - He was pointing toward something greater - even more extravagant grace was to come. Jonah would never know in his lifetime why God left him in the fish for three days and three nights. But someday in eternity, Jonah would understand.
Read Matthew 12:38-40.
God was using Jonah’s story to point toward the Gospel! And I can promise you that He’s doing the same thing with your story, even if you can’t see it yet, even if you don’t see it till eternity.
Maybe you’re in a difficult season and you’re wondering if God hears you. Maybe you’re wondering why God hasn’t changed your circumstances yet or why He hasn’t rescued you from the situation you’re currently living in. And I hope that Jonah’s story encourages you.
How can you remember Jonah’s story the next time you are waiting on God to answer your prayers?
What can Jonah’s story of the being inside of the fish for three days and nights teach you about God’s perfect timing?