What do we do when we find ourselves in times of great suffering? What do we do when we feel like we’re in a pit? When we feel like we’re inside the belly of a fish–a place of darkness, hopelessness, and death? Jonah faced that same question and discovered the only thing he could do was surrender. And by surrendering in the midst of his suffering, Jonah discovered that the worst place turned out to be the best place, because the worst place turned out to be the place where he met God.
THIS EPISODE’S HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDE:
- Markus talks about giving up his Hollywood dream.
- God “provided” a fish to swallow Jonah. The word, “provided,” could also be translated as “commissioned” or “appointed.” It is the same word used when a king commissioned an ambassador to carry out his will.
- If there is a single word to capture Jonah’s state in Jonah 2, it would be the word “down.” Jonah is sinking deeper and deeper.
- The sea in the ancient world represented chaos.
- The people of Israel has very little experience on the sea.
- Having been swallowed by the huge fish, Jonah finds himself in the worst possible place an Israelite could have imagined being. Yet, this is the place where he finally meets God.
- The worst place Jonah could have imagined turned out to be the best place because it is the place where he had a deep, profound encounter with God.
- Jonah discovers that the worst thing that ever happened to him is the best thing that ever happened to him.
- Stories can be broadly categorized as comedies and tragedies. Jonah is a comedy because it is a story in which life wins, hope wins, joy wins.
- In verse 8, Jonah says, “Those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God’s love for them.” Who is Jonah referring to? The Ninevites? The sailors? Or himself?
- Jonah is most likely referring to himself as one who has clung to worthless idols.
- In the belly of the fish, Jonah finally lets go of the idols to which he has been clinging—fear, anger, xenophobia. Now he is able to surrender to God and go where God is leading him.
- Are you in a belly-of-the-fish experience now?
- What idols are you clinging to?
RELEVANT RESOURCES AND LINKS:
- Under the Unpredictable Plant by Eugene Peterson
- This book was a helpful resource in preparing this sermon.
- We Are Not as Strong as We Think We Are, song by Rich Mullins
- A beautiful song reminding us of our frailty before God.
- And here are some of the pictures I reference in the sermon: