On June 11, 2021, lobster diver Michael Packard experienced something so rare it is hard to believe. He was swallowed by a humpback whale! Following his release from the hospital, Packard said, “I was completely inside; it was completely black,” Packard said. “I thought to myself, ‘there’s no way I’m getting out of here. I’m done, I’m dead.’ All I could think of was my boys.”
Jonah must have had similar thoughts when he was swallowed by a great fish after refusing to prophesy to the Ninevites. While most believers and non-believers are familiar with the story of Jonah, we might overlook his prayer when he was in the belly of the beast.
The beginning of his prayer details the horrific experience of nearly drowning. The current swirled around him, the waves crashed overhead, and then he started to drown (v. 3). As he sank to the bottom of the ocean and seaweed wrapped around his head he began to pray (vv. 5–7). Even from the depths of the ocean God still listened to his plea, and the Lord saved him from certain death (v. 7).
Do you ever feel like you are drowning in a situation? No matter where you may be, God sees and hears you. Unfortunately, like Jonah, we often wait for times of desperation to cry to Him. Jonah’s life is an example of an inconsistent walk with God. However, he learned that a daily commitment to God meant putting aside idols that hinder a solid relationship with Him. When we cling to idols, we abandon any hope of mercy and grace (v. 8). He realized that second chances take sacrifice and when he finally admitted it and surrendered his life to the Lord, he was saved (vv. 9–10).
>> What worthless idols are you clinging to? Your possessions? People? Pride? Don’t lose out on what God wants to do in your life. Your predicament is never too difficult for God.
By Your grace, Lord, eliminate the idols from our lives. Whether by a gentle word or a jarring circumstance, convict us of the things we hold too dear. May You be forever first in our affections.