In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me.
What do you do when the bottom falls out and everything goes wrong?
I do not mean necessarily when you see evil in the world around you, although “What do you do and say?” is a highly appropriate question, especially today.
I mean more what do you do when your choices have created in your life a scenario where there is nowhere to go but up, although you are not convinced up is even possible.
If you have spent time as a part of a faith community growing up, chances are good that at some point you have turned your back on what you know you were taught to do and when you examined the wreck of your life, you thought: “Wow! I have made a mess of things and I know exactly why I am in the place I am.”
If you have never had that instruction of faith to serve as a foundation for your set of beliefs and actions, you still probably have found yourself in a place where you know things are not good and have an inkling that you wrong choices or lack of choices have somehow played a role in your life.
Imagine how you would feel if you were Jonah. Told to go serve as God’s messenger (and from that, I am going to assume he knew what God expected of him), Jonah decides to run as far away from God as possible. Get a map and find the city of Ninevah and the city Tarshish. Spoiler Alert: they are on opposite ends of the map. If you have read Jonah 1, you discover that Jonah’s decision to run did not end well. It involved a storm, being thrown overboard, and a very large fish.
Given the circumstances, how would you have reacted if you were Jonah? His prayer in Jonah 2 is a fascinating insight into how to handle that moment when you fully realize your decision to run away from God, rather than toward him and the implications that decision holds.
Instead of breaking it down for you, let me ask you to do this. Spend time every day this week praying Jonah’s prayer. Whether you find his prayer misses the mark of where your life is at this moment or if you are looking around waiting for someone to throw you overboard, I believe you will find this prayer a powerful testimony to the goodness of God, especially when wonder about your own goodness.
•Spend a few minutes writing down all of the things you would like to “ascribe” to God, that is, list the great things that God has done in your life.
•How does your life communicate to others that “Salvation comes from the Lord?” How can you do a better job telling others this?
•Describe a time when you have felt intense grief for those you love who have turned their back on God. How have you expressed this grief to them and also to God?
•It is interesting that Jesus chose to spend time alone praying to God. Why do you think this was so important to Jesus (who came from God, after all) and what does his actions say about how we should also approach God in prayer?
•When have you heard Jesus tell you to “Take courage!” and really needed the courage that only he can bring?