07 Nov Words of Grace – Hope in the Belly of a Fish
The Lord commissioned the prophet Jonah to call out against the evil of the Ninevites. Jonah did not want to. So he went the other direction, as far from Nineveh and the presence of the Lord as he could (or so he thought). The Lord sent a great storm to threaten the ship Jonah boarded to flee from the Lord. Jonah was thrown overboard to save the ship and crew. The Lord sent a great fish to swallow Jonah. Inside the fish, Jonah prayed to the Lord and determined to obey.
Many people question the part about the fish. They wonder how anyone could believe that a fish actually swallowed a man and that the man lived to pray another day. When I questioned this part of the Jonah account in my own mind, I remembered that the entire Christian faith is dependent on the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. If God can raise the dead, Jonah praying inside a fish is not such a stretch.
A bigger question than the reality of the fish is the purpose of the fish. The reason the Lord sent the fish to swallow Jonah was to rescue him from an otherwise certain death at the bottom of the sea. That rescue is a reason for hope. If you are ever running from the Lord and his call on you life, and he sends a fish to swallow you, here are four reasons you can be hopeful:
1. God is showing you that he has the power to fulfill his purposes and his plans, even if you are not entirely on board.
2. God is showing you that he is gracious enough to discipline you in order to rescue you from yourself.
3. God is showing you that he will not abandon you because his steadfast love endures forever.
4. God is giving you an opportunity to turn to him in prayer and repentance.
We will continue our missions emphasis at Grace this Sunday with more on Jonah. Read the book of Jonah this weekend to prepare for Sunday worship.