Yesterday, I was in conversation with a friend, and we wondered why it is that we often draw closer to God in difficult times rather than in good times. We see this with many of our favorite Bible characters, in the many life stories of Christian leaders, and in our own lives. Why can’t we maintain strong faith in good times?
We didn’t arrive at deep profound answers, but the conversation made me think about favorite Bible characters that drew nearer to God in bad times, like Jonah, and his beautiful soul searching prayer from the belly of the giant fish.
In 2 Kings 14:23-29 we see that Jonah was a prophet, under King Jeroboam II of Israel. While the king did not set a good example, God had mercy on Israel and they were successfully rebuilding the nation. At this time, God asked Jonah to go preach to Nineveh, one of Israel’s most feared neighbor; Jonah refused and ran away.
Unfortunately, we read in the book of Jonah that his escape turned into a nightmare. Tragically, he was swallowed by a giant fish, and that was when he offered this soul searching prayer recorded in Jonah 2:1-10 (NLT shortened) –
“Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from inside the fish. He said, “I cried out to the Lord in my great trouble, and he answered me. I called to you from the land of the dead, and Lord, you heard me! You threw me into the ocean depths… I sank beneath the waves… As my life was slipping away… my earnest prayer went out to you… I will offer sacrifices to you with songs of praise, and I will fulfill all my vows… Then the Lord ordered the fish to spit Jonah out onto the beach.”
Jonah remembered to pray when he was in deep trouble; he promised to offer sacrifices with songs of praise; and to fulfill his vows – which as a prophet included preaching God’s message wherever he is sent. In the midst of tragedy, Jonah drew closer to God, offered a deep soul searching prayer, and heaven answered.
Merciful God, like Jonah, we sometimes find ourselves in deep trouble and its our fault; in those troubled times give us a clear mind and the courage to pray for help; rescue us we pray in Jesus name, Amen!