Summary: Exposition of Jonah 2
Success: how high you bounce when you hit bottom. - Gen. George Patton
General Patton’s words remind us that most of us hit bottom at some point. Life has its ups and downs, its highs and lows. No matter how you try to stay on the high peaks of the mountain, at some point you descend into the deep dark valley. At some point you hit bottom.
You may hit bottom when you make wrong, foolish choices, or you may hit bottom because of the wrong foolish choices of others. Failure can send you plummeting down to the depths of discouragement. When your money runs low, or your health is snatched away--when depression drags you down and you can’t seem to find any hope---when you feel all alone and God feels far away-- you look around and discover you’ve hit bottom.
Everybody goes through it at some time or another. Everybody hits bottom. The real issue is: how do you bounce back when you hit bottom?
Let’s ask a man who’s been there. He knows what’s like to go as low as you can go. His is the story of a man who’s gone to the bottom and bounced back. His name is Jonah, and his bounce back is recorded in Jonah 2 where the Bible shows you and I how to bounce back from the bottom. Let’s begin in vs. 1.
How do you bounce back when you hit bottom? Jonah says begin by
I. LOOKING UP IN PRAYER (v. 1)
One of the reasons God so often sends us to the bottom is to humble us.
A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you’re looking down, you can’t see something that’s above you.--C. S. Lewis
This is certainly true of Jonah.
Jonah turns his gaze away from God to himself. His pride blinds him to God’s purpose and presence. Instead of obeying God and going to Nineveh, he sets his sights on escaping to Tarshish. The storm doesn’t clear up his vision. When he sees the winds and waves, he sneaks below in the ship’s hold hoping to die in his sleep. Even when he gets thrown overboard Jonah is looking only for death.
But God has other plans. He sends a great fish to swallow Jonah, and keep him in time out for 3 days. During those 3 days this prodigal prophet is finally humble enough to look back up.
Jon 2:1 Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the fish’s belly.
I don’t know if he has enough room to get down on his knees, but I do know old Jonah calls out humbly to the God’s he’s been running from. When he hits bottom, he begins to look up.
Has that ever happened to you?
Lots of folks say they don’t have time to pray. It’s a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week world we live in. People work long hours, get home and go back to work on other things. Before you know it the whole day is over, and just before your eyes close in sleep, you whisper a quick prayer asking for God to bless everybody. When do you find time to pray?
You find time to pray when you hit bottom. When trouble grinds your life to a halt, when you become desperate to figure out what to do, suddenly you find time to pray. When you get sick or hurt and you don’t know when you’ll get better, you’ll find time to pray. When the seeds of your disobedience produce a harvest of chastisement, suddenly, you find time to talk to the Lord. When the devil whispers that you’ve gone too far, that you have no hope, that you might as well give up and get it over with, then it’s time to look up in prayer to God.
When you hit bottom it’s not time to wallow in self-pity, fussing “God, why are you treating me so bad?” It’s not time to dig in your heels and harden your heart. Jonah could have done this and stayed in the fish’s belly until he was digested.
No, my friend. When you hit bottom, you need to look up to God, call on His Name, believe He’s still listening, because the wonderful truth is even when you’ve hit bottom, He still hears your prayers.
Jerry Levin was assigned as Middle East bureau chief for CNN. He viewed his assignment as a new adventure. But his adventure took a turn for the worst when in 1983 Jerry felt a light tap on his shoulder. A short bearded man in his early twenties pushed a green handgun into his stomach. Two and a half hours later he was led into a building and shoved into a room, where they shackled his right arm to a radiator, and then they left. Jerry waited and listened; he was alone. Days passed in a blur of monotony and fear.