“From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the LORD his God. He said: ‘In my distress I called to the LORD, and He answered me. From the depths of the grave I called for help, and You listened to my cry.” Jonah 2:1-2
Jonah chapter two chronicles Jonah’s prayer of thanksgiving to the LORD. He is praising the LORD for rescuing him in his distress. Jonah uses phrases such as: “I called to the LORD and He answered me; I called for help and You listened to my cry; You brought my life up from the pit O LORD my God; salvation comes from the LORD.” It is apparent that Jonah is overwhelmed with gratitude for the LORD’S mercy despite his disobedience.
Do you know what stands out to me the most about this passage? It is not so much what Jonah is saying as much as from where he is saying it. The passage begins with, “From inside the fish Jonah prayed…” These words of thanksgiving and praise are being lifted up from deep inside a giant fish’s hot, stinky belly. From Jonah’s perspective, this fish’s gut was the LORD’S salvation. Did Jonah know at that point that God planned to command the fish to place him on dry land after three days? From the Scripture we have no indication that he had such knowledge.
So what did Jonah know? What led him to such gratitude despite his bleak circumstances? He knew he directly disobeyed God. God commanded him to go to Nineveh, and he chose to rebel and run from God, boarding a ship headed as far from Nineveh as possible. He knew that God sent a huge storm that threatened to sink the ship of his escape. And when the men on the ship threw him overboard, the raging sea grew calm. He knew that he was drowning…and perhaps that he deserved such a fate due to his rebellion towards God. And he knew that just in time, a fish swallowed him whole, rescuing him from certain death.
So many times we choose to focus on where we are instead of on who God is and how He has proven Himself faithful. Perspective is everything. Will we focus on the belly of the fish, or on the God who has brought us safely through the storm? Will we lament our situation, or gratefully praise our God of second chances?
Father, Thank You for second chances. Even when I fail, You stand ready to forgive me and set me back on Your path. Please help me to focus on Your goodness, even when I don’t understand Your ways. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.