This devotional first appeared in https://www.islandsadventist.org
Scripture: For You cast me into the deep, Into the heart of the seas, And the floods surrounded me; All Your billows and Your waves passed over me. Jonah 2:3 (NKJV)
Observation: Salvation is of the LORD. The core of this prayer celebrates God’s miraculous intervention to rescue Jonah by a fish. At the end of Jonah’s prayer God spoke to the fish, which saved Jonah from drowning and vomited him up. Creatures obey the voice of God. Humans are uniquely endowed with the prerogative to say no. [Andrews Study Bible Notes. 2010 (J. L. Dybdahl, Ed.) (1179). Berrien Springs, MI: Andrews University Press.]
Application: Jonah’s story is more interesting than any novel, TV show, or movie ever made. It has all the drama, adventure, passion, and excitement of a modern blockbuster. Within just a few chapters, a couple of pages, we read the life-or-death struggle of a very reluctant ministry worker and how God resolved his personal, spiritual struggle and at the same time provided the only lifeline to a people doomed to die.
Our passage for consideration is part of Jonah’s prayer which he uttered inside the fish God provided to save him from drowning in the stormy sea. That experience must have been frightening, and a little sickening. First he is thrown out into the raging waters, at his own suggestion. I can imagine what it must have been like, plunging into the dark, angry ocean, gasping for fresh air and instead feeling his mouth and lungs begin to fill with salty sea water, and then to feel suddenly swallowed by a large fish. We don’t know whether the fish was just big enough for Jonah to fit inside his digestive track or even larger, as portrayed in children’s movies, for him to move around. Either way, the stench of gastric juices, the smell, the darkness, the pressure on the ears as the fish dove into deeper, calmer waters, the sounds of a large beating heart. . . all strange, frightening sounds and a foreign environment for any person.
Jonah was obviously not unconscious during this entire ordeal. He might have slept some of the time from sheer exhaustion, but while he was awake he had plenty of time to consider his situation, his life, and his failures. When he finally realized what he had done, his rebellion and disobedience, he also came to recognize his love and dependence on God, and that if God had rejected him he would not just be inside the fish’s belly, he would have already been digested by it. So he prays, a prayer of adoration, a prayer of Thanksgiving, and a prayer of surrender. God’s grace, His billows and waves, passed over Jonah. . . God baptized him, if you please, and now God brings him out of the belly, not of his mother but of the fish, so he can enjoy a new life and a new chance at fulfilling the mission God called to.
We don’t have to go through all that drama to experience God’s love and forgiveness. Right now, wherever we are, we can stop and allow the billows and waves of God’s love and forgiveness to cover us and our families and to renew in us His call to mission, as individual and as a family. He is the God of a second chance. . . ask for it right now.
A Prayer You May Say: Father God, may Your love and forgiveness wash our me and over my family so that we may be renewed by Your spirit and go on to fulfill Your mission for us.
Used by permission of Adventist Family Ministries, North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.