We like to think of Jesus as the “Storm Calmer,” don’t we? But sometimes Jesus can be the “Storm Sender.” God will sometimes send storms in our lives to turn us back from a path of destruction. We see this dramatically exemplified in the life of Jonah:
But the Lord sent out a great wind on the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship was about to be broken up. Then the mariners were afraid; and every man cried out to his god, and threw the cargo that was in the ship into the sea, to lighten the load. But Jonah had gone down into the lowest parts of the ship, had lain down, and was fast asleep. (Jonah 1:4-5)
Storms reveal where we have really placed our trust. “And every many cried out to his god.” When the storms come, we first try to fix things ourselves (the mariners throw the cargo overboard) and then we turn to our “gods” of security for help – whether that’s money, social standing, or even misplaced-trust in friends or family. As one commentator states, “If we don’t know the true God–the God of the Bible–before we are in trouble, we may sincerely turn to a false and imaginary god, one of our own making” (David Guzik).
Notice then that in the midst of this crisis—a crisis where the sailors desperately needed to learn about the power and mercy of God—that Jonah is fast asleep in the hull of the ship. I like how Pastor David Guzik points out the parallels between Jonah and many “Sleeping Christians” in our churches today:
- Jonah slept in a place where he hoped no one would see him or disturb him. “Sleeping Christians” like to “hide out” among the church.
- Jonah slept in a place where he could not help with the work that needed to be done. “Sleeping Christians” stay away from the work of the Lord.
- Jonah slept while there was a prayer meeting up on the deck. “Sleeping Christians” don’t like prayer meetings!
- Jonah slept and had no idea of the problems around him. “Sleeping Christians” don’t know what is really going on.
- Jonah slept when he was in great danger. “Sleeping Christians” are in danger, but don’t know it.
- Jonah slept while the heathen needed him. “Sleeping Christians” snooze on while the world needs their message and testimony.
When Jonah finally wakes up and gets dragged to the deck of the ship, he then has the opportunity to tell the sailors about a very powerful God – a God named YAHWEH who not only made the heavens, but the dry lands and the sea as well! You see, the sailors came from a pagan culture which believed in many, many gods. There were different gods for different geographical areas, and there were gods of the sea as well as gods of the land. Now, these men get to learn of an all-powerful Creator God who is in charge of ALL of it! The chapter even ends with the sailors offering sacrifices to the LORD and worshipping Him. I bet they took the news of this all-powerful Creator God back with them to their homes and families. What a testimony!
As the storm continued to grow worse, however, Jonah finally realized he has no choice but to cast himself at the feet of God, in expectation of swift judgment. Jonah was convinced he was going to drown as he told the sailors to cast him into the sea. But, as I heard one of our students say, “Who knew that you could even find God’s mercy in the belly of a fish?”
Please check out the next part of our study, “In the Belly.”