I live on an island and I ride in a ferry to get to the mainland. Sometimes my car is loaded into the center of the ferry – I call it ‘the bowels of the boat’. It is a cavernous, windowless space except for the wide openings on either end, and riding here, in the belly of the boat, I think of Jonah and what it must have felt like. One thing’s for certain – sitting in the dark, damp, fishy smelling inside of a whale changes one’s perspective.
The piece of the story that surprises me most is that – the Lord provided the whale….
“… the LORD provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah…” Jonah 1:17
Sometimes I see the whale as THE problem – sort of the bad guy in the story; but with a closer look, I see that the true problem was Jonah’s troubled heart.
The odd truth of the whale – is he was similar to the white horse the hero rides in on in a good romance story to save the princess. Just as the hero brings the princess to safety, so, too, the whale brings Jonah to a good and true place.
How often do I look at my troubles as THE problem – just like the whale.
I think ‘If only such and such would happen’ ________(fill in the blank) my life would be grand. I would never complain again!’
Sadly, I’m prone to over exaggerating my problems and their solutions. I think one simple fix will permanently alter the trajectory of my life and I’ll never feel down or troubled again. Not true.
Jonah had heart trouble. I, too, have serious heart trouble.
Jonah needed an attitude adjustment and God cared enough for Jonah – just as he cared for the evil and corrupt people of Nineveh, that God was willing to send in reinforcements.
Big reinforcements. Whale sized reinforcements.
What do you see as your trouble today?
Perhaps you think the trouble is a person in your family (maybe your hubby or a child), or perhaps you think your trouble is a circumstance you can’t change (for me that might look like my health struggle, for someone else it may be your finances or job situation).
You know what troubles you face today – what struggle do you feel inadequate to bear?
The lesson for me from Jonah is to take a 2nd look at the whale and recognize where my true troubles lie.
Also, I need to alter my perspective of what a rescue looks like – God’s saving grace might not be what I expect.
God provided a whale to save Jonah; God’s saving grace in the odd form of a large fish.
My story, too has unexpected twists and turns, and deliverance doesn’t always look like what I expect. I’d like to think a quick prayer, and presto – ‘problem-be-gone’!
At times deliverance comes in the form of a whale – a whale of a problem – which God uses to bring me to the solid ground and perspective of His goodness, His mercy, and His truth. You see, life looks different from inside the belly of a whale.
So, What Can You Learn From the Belly of a Whale?…
- Troubles are not sent by God – but, they are always used by God.
- Often, our truly whale sized troubles are in our hearts – not our circumstances.
- God’s not afraid of the dark and He never leaves us alone. No matter where you are – God will be with you.
Where can I flee from Your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, You are there;
If I make my bed in the depths, You are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
If I settle on the far side of the sea,
Even there Your hand will guide me,
Your right hand shall hold me fast.” Psalm 139:7-11
- God is a God of infinite mercy – even in our worst trouble or darkest despair God offers us a way out – He call us back to Himself – He offers 2nd and 3rd chances.
- Our troubles are never wasted – God will use them, if we invite Him into them – and offer them for His mighty plans and purposes.
**Lord, teach us to gain a heart of wisdom, to see our troubles through Your eyes, and to be swallowed up first and foremost, by Your very life in us.
“For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened… so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.”
II Cor. 5:4