Reminder: this week, we are reading the book of Jonah. See yesterday’s devotion for part 1; we’ll continue through Friday.
Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the belly of the fish:
“I called out to the Lord in my distress, and he answered me.
From the belly of the underworld I cried out for help;
you have heard my voice.
You had cast me into the depths in the heart of the seas,
and the flood surrounds me.
All your strong waves and rushing water passed over me.
So I said, ‘I have been driven away from your sight.
Will I ever again look on your holy temple?
Waters have grasped me to the point of death;
the deep surrounds me.
Seaweed is wrapped around my head
at the base of the undersea mountains.
I have sunk down to the underworld;
its bars held me with no end in sight.
But you brought me out of the pit.’
When my endurance was weakening,
I remembered the Lord,
and my prayer came to you,
to your holy temple.
Those deceived by worthless things lose their chance for mercy.
But me, I will offer a sacrifice to you with a voice of thanks.
That which I have promised, I will pay.
Deliverance belongs to the Lord!”
Then the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto the dry land.
It could be worse.
Part of what defines Jonah’s story is that things just keep going down… literally. He goes down to Tarshish to catch a ship to flee from God’s calling, he goes down below decks during the storm that results from his disobedience, he goes down in the sea when his fellow sailors toss him overboard, he goes down the fish’s gullet (it’s never referred to as a whale!) and ends up in its stomach. It’s here that we find him today, reflecting on his journey up to this point. I think most of us would agree, it’s not been great. (Do you think travel insurance covers this?)
What’s surprising is the tone of his prayer (which, we’ll soon learn, is a bit out of character for Jonah). The writer has him offering a prayer of thanksgiving from inside the belly of the fish.
He’s been saved from drowning, but there’s no way around it: he’s still stuck. And yet, Jonah is able to see and give thanks for God’s goodness.
When you are struggling to see anything good, this is one way to keep a healthy perspective: remember, it could be worse!
For Pondering & Prayer
If there’s something you’re arguing with God about today, stop to consider how things might be worse. Does that help to turn an argument into a thanksgiving?
This is a good technique to use on ourselves, but it seldom works when you see someone else having a difficult time. Why do you think that is?
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