Storms are a natural occurrence. Most common are the physical storms we experience within seasons of the year. But more common than those are the personal storms we all experience sometime in our lives. It is these storms we will discuss.
If you have followed me any length of time, you will know that I absolutely love scripture and the stories it gives us. Now some people think I’m believing in fairy tales, but I beg to differ. I’m a firm believer that my God is able to do exceedingly and abundantly great and powerful things. So let’s talk about Jonah (and the whale).
“But Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction to get away from the Lord. He went down to the port of Joppa, where he found a ship leaving for Tarshish. He bought a ticket and went on board, hoping to escape from the LORD by sailing to Tarshish.” —Jonah 1:3.
God called Jonah to take a message of repentance to the huge city of Nineveh. Jonah must not have liked what he heard because he took a boat in the opposite direction. You see the Ninevites were Israel’s enemies, and Jonah must have figured if he went and preached to them, they would repent and the Lord would spare them. I guess you could say Jonah thought he knew more than God.
Meanwhile, scripture tells us, “the Lord hurled a powerful wind over the sea, causing a violent storm that threatened to break the ship apart” — Jonah 1:4. The storm must have been a hurricane with torrential winds and so bad that even the crew on Jonah’s boat began to cry out to their various gods for deliverance. But Jonah knew while there was a storm. Jonah told them, “I am a Hebrew and I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” (Jonah 1:9). Then they asked Jonah, “What should we do to you to make the sea calm down for us?” (Jonah 1:10). “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)
13 Instead, the men did their best to row back to land. But they could not, for the sea grew even wilder than before. 14 Then they cried out to the Lord, “Please, Lord, do not let us die for taking this man’s life. Do not hold us accountable for killing an innocent man, for you, Lord, have done as you pleased.” 15 Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm.
Now Jonah was in a tumultuous sea. The story continues: “Now the Lord provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. (Jonah 1:17)
From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God. Jonah 2 says:
2In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me. From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help, and you listened to my cry. 3 You hurled me into the depths, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me. 4 I said, ‘I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple.’ 5 The engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head. 6 To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever. But you, Lord my God, brought my life up from the pit. 7 “When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, Lord, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple. 8 “Those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God’s love for them. 9 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.’ 10 And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.
You may be thinking no way a person can survive in the belly of a whale. Well, there have been many documented cases where men have survived such an ordeal. That storm Jonah experienced was a real storm, but came at God’s direction for Jonah’s correction. I’ve lived through plenty of correcting storms. Each time I wonder, “Why me?” Then, during the eye of the storm and the calm afterwards, I realize “why not me?”
Maybe you’re facing a correcting storm today. The eye of the storm and the peace following the storm will arrive. Don’t delay … trust God that He knows what He’s doing. Even in the midst of your storm God loves you just the way He loved Jonah. He certainly got Jonah’s attention and got him back on track. In the same way, God loves you and wants you to get back on track with Him.
Have you had a similar experience? I’d love to hear it!
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