Summary: The "deep end" is not necessarily the worst place to find yourself
God Hears in Even When You are in Deep!
Donovan W. Myers
In Jamaica there is a popular idiom that says “When trouble tek yu, pickney shut fit yu.” [when you are in trouble, even a child’s shirt will fit]. An addict can only get help and begin to recover when he has hit rock bottom. If the foregoing two statements are correct, then it seems to me that we could consider ourselves fortunate when we are in a desperate situation. This is certainly not because of the situation itself. Yet it is the opportunity that the situation might present to you which points out resources that you never knew you had available to you. For example, the adrenaline rush that people experience in order to perform extraordinary feats. Or the creative budgeting and spending that you do when money is not available; yu tun yu han and mek fashin [you create something out of nothing]. Or even the emotional strength that you find out that you have to deal with a bad interpersonal or family problem.
Last week we started to look at the story of Jonah. He was a man who had run away from his God given task to warn Nineveh about God’s impending wrath on them. He was not only inattentive to duty but he willfully disregarded God’s direction on his life.
What was Jonah’s sin? He was guilty of self righteousness for he felt that the people of Nineveh were not as deserving of the same privilege of salvation as the Jews. He was guilty of indifference. He could not care less about the people of Nineveh. “So what if they perished?” he seemed to say. He was also guilty of choosing the way of convenience. He went in the direction which posed no threat to his safety or his comfort - he chose the easy way out.
As a result, he found himself in a predicament. He found himself in the belly of a fish in the bottom of the ocean. He was out of the will of God. He was suffering because of his actions and he was desperate for a second chance. The beauty of our God is that he not only pays attention even though we are inattentive to our responsibility, but he is active in working for and on our behalf. Contrary to some notion of God having wound up the clock and left it to unwind while he sits by (and with a smirk on his face, I may say); our God is active in the affairs of men. He is not simply passive in siting and watching, but he is active in doing.
Maybe you might be faced with the perplexing question of “Is God interested in me?” Or “Does he care about what happens to me?” My friend, the answer is yes. But how does God show his interest and activity? Three ways are seen from the story.
Firstly, God Initiates Reconciliation. It is interesting to note that Jonah is the one who began the quarrel and parted in anger. Yet it is God who counteracted his anger. It is so easy for us to forget how our place and wag our fingers in the face of God. Yet his reaction is not to fight fire with fire! He would have been in the right to demand an apology or refuse to have audience with us; yet his manner is much more radical than that. Instead he provided Jonah with an opportunity both to see himself and to escape his approaching demise. God provided a great fish to swallow him. What seemed like certain death was God’s means of grace and salvation. He even sharpened Jonah’s focus by allowing him to remain there for three days and nights. Finally he got his attention.
We must be careful to remember that God’s gracious heart is always open towards us and he initiates and carries out Salvation for us even though we do not deserve. Rom. 5:8 says, God demonstrates his love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. So don’t despise when you suffer because of your own doing - it is God’s gracious way of providing you with a mirror to see yourself and a door of opportunity to move on.
Secondly, God Listens To Prayer. One of the most potent resources that is available to the believer is prayer. For God listens when we pray. Certainly prayer should be an on going feature of our lives; but God wants us to pray when we are in trouble. In our times of despair, under the sense of our sin - like Jonah in his predicament, we too must pray. No place is amiss for prayer. Wherever God casts us, we may find a way open towards heaven. For he who has Christ dwelling in his heart, by faith, carries his altar everywhere with his. For men may shut us out of communion with others, but not from communion with God.