“But the Lord hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship threatened to break up […] And the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And
Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.” Jonah 1:4, 17
This story of the prophet Jonah and his misadventures has captured the imaginations of generations of children. It was one of the first Bible stories I became familiar with as a youngster.
While being swallowed by a great fish sounds like an amazing and scary adventure — and it undoubtedly was — what strikes me now as I read this powerful story is how unrelentingly God pursued his reluctant
prophet. Instead of a lifeboat, God brought a “life fish”!
Notice the verbs “hurled” (the wind) and “appointed” (the fish). These things didn’t just “happen” to Jonah. They were the intentional actions of the pursuing God. The
book of Jonah, from beginning to end, reveals the God who loves men and
women enough to pursue them until they repent (turn around), surrender,
and give their hearts to him.
Who do you relate to in the story of Jonah? The reluctant prophet who runs from God, not fully surrendered? The people of Nineveh who were wandering in darkness? Maybe the unbelieving but
good-hearted sailors who did everything they could to keep from throwing
Jonah overboard? How about the big, obedient fish that was willing to
be used for God’s purpose?
Wherever you find yourself today, you can take comfort from the book of Jonah that the Creator God who commands the wind and the fish will also care for you!
God of the storm, who cares for every human life, teach me to trust you whatever comes. Thank you for pursuing me with your love! Amen.