SALVATION FROM THE LORD
But I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.’” (Jonah 2:9)The beloved story of Jonah in the belly of the whale is a favorite with many a Sunday School child. Little, however, is known of the gem in Jonah chapter 2: Jonah’s prayer which is in many ways a model prayer for all of us.
Right response in crisis situation: People respond differently to crises –either their relationship with God grows stronger and stronger with trouble, or they turn away from God completely, blaming Him for all their sorrows. Jonah’s response to peril was to pray. Even when all seemed lost, Jonah cried out, “I will look again to your holy temple.” Even in the darkest hour, Jonah was able to utter a poetic prayer, “a song of thanksgiving” (vs. 9) to God for deliverance, quoting Scripture and psalms. 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18 instructs us, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ.” As tough as it was from the belly of a whale, Jonah was able to do just that.
Owning the responsibility of our failure: Jonah ‘s very life “was ebbing away” (vs. 7), having experienced not only the terror of drowning but also being in the belly of a fish for three days. Being engulfed by waves and darkness, Jonah felt banished from God’s sight (vs. 4). The darkness was symbolic of how far his disobedience and stubbornness had removed him from God’s presence into the depths of misery. Yet, even at the lowest point of Jonah’s life, he confessed that he was responsible for his suffering and deserved any punishment that God had meted out to him. Jonah also came to a realization that “those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.” We may place our trust in our money, our families, our hard work or resourcefulness but in the end, none of these idols can save us. Jonah acknowledged the sovereignty of God and that “Salvation comes from the Lord”. He surrendered his life fully to God’s plan.
This brings us back to essence of the book of Jonah - Salvation. Salvation was the reason Jonah had been called to go to Nineveh. Jonah, however, was stubborn, disobedient and judgmental and had other plans. God used this reluctant prophet as a vehicle of His grace. Jonah experienced first- hand God’s grace and salvation; he understood how wonderful God was, in reaching out to a man as sinful as he, with the marvelous offer of forgiveness and redemption. Truly, we have a love “that will not let us go”, pursuing us to great depths and heights to bring us back to His loving arms.
Prayer: O Lord we know that our God not only restores us but recycles our failures and brokenness, using them for Your mighty purpose. Amen.
Dr. Susan and Dr. George Abraham, Carmel, Boston