“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.” (Jonah 2:3)
“…but you, LORD my God, brought my life up from the pit.” (Jonah 2:6)
The previous post, The Mark of Brokenness, I gave a general outline on the mark of being broken by God and how it exposes the truth about ourselves, yet once that is accepted and we surrender, the blessings of resurrection ensue. I stated that God has a certain way of bringing us into that life and maturity in Christ. That is, Death, Burial, and Resurrection.
I want to expound on my personal experience with this by looking at two remarkable men of the Bible that got a tough, yet very fruitful, lesson in God’s way: Jonah and Jacob. Let’s first look at Jonah.
Jonah: The Wayward Prophet
Jonah was a prophet according to Scripture. Which meant that he had a definite relationship with the Lord. He no doubt loved Him and served Him in a way that earned Jonah the title of Prophet. God gave him a mission to fulfill: go to Nineveh and warn them of the coming calamity from their sinful, idolatrous ways. But ole Jonah didn’t want any part of it. He boarded a ship to Tarshish, told the fellow sailors that he was running from his God, then laid down and took a nap.
He’s on this ship, sleeping, and a violent storm ensues. The fellow sailors wake him up and tell him to pray to his God. They’re throwing cargo off into the sea in an attempt to save themselves. The sailors are desperate, all praying to their gods, looking even to Jonah for an answer. But Jonah knows exactly what’s going on here. After having to practically plead with these men to toss him overboard, they finally do and the storm relents.
The men on the ship that worshiped “gods” saw the power of “the Lord, God of heaven and earth” and greatly feared Him. They then sacrificed to the true God.
When God has called you, He has really called you. He doesn’t change His mind, He doesn’t wash His hands of us–Love (Christ) is patient (1 Corinthians 13). So even in the midst of Jonah’s blatant rebellion, the Lord still uses him. If Jonah had not ran off, these men may have never turned from their idols or seen with their own eyes the power of the Lord of Israel. What grace! What mercy!
The Belly of the Whale
This is the part of Jonah’s story that I relate to the most–the belly of the whale.
Jonah is on the brink of death. He has been entounmbed, if you will, into the dark, scary place. Finally, Jonah gives up and begins to pray. I absolutely love his prayer in the 2nd chapter of Jonah!
Imagine being in the belly of whale–a whale large enough to swallow a grown man whole. It’s dark–very dark. It stinks, it’s probably slimy. You’d have no idea which way was up or down. It would be difficult not to drown. Pretty scary if you ask me. Especially if you’re even a little bit claustrophobic!
In a more metaphoric way, I have been swallowed up in that dark belly of the whale which was drug addiction. I ran from God, full speed. To the point of denying my faith and becoming, for a time, an agnostic. Nearly four years I stayed there. But those four years stripped me bare to the point where I “cried from the depth of Sheol and You heard my voice.” (Jonah 2:1)
Looking back, I don’t believe it would’ve taken four years for me to go back to Nineveh. But I’m a fighter. I went up against the Almighty God and lost. But in the Kingdom of God, to lose is to gain!
If God is calling you to fulfill a mission, to forgive a brother or sister, to persevere through the most difficult trial of your life, to be patient and have faith in your healing while you battle serious depression: Listen. Obey. Follow. Stay humble. For the gift of resurrection is coming. But first you must pass through the valley.
This was part 1 of a mini-series on brokeness. If you missed the Preface to this series, CLICK HERE. The next installment will be dealing with Jacob and his wrestle with God. Thank you for reading. If you enjoyed this post and were blessed by it, leave a comment or share it with your friends. It is much appreciated! Subscribe at the top right of the page so you won’t miss any future posts on the All Things in Christ blog (we do not send spam or try to sell anything, all you will get from us is an email alerting you of any new articles being published). -Michael S. Young