Summary: When I deserve Him the least and need Him most God is there for me.
General George S. Patton once said:
I don't measure a man's success by how high he climbs but how high he bounces when he hits bottom.
After what we saw in Jonah chapter 1 last week, I think Jonah certainly would have been encouraged by those words. After all, it’s hard to imagine that Jonah could fall any lower.
When God called him to go and preach in Nineveh, he instead chose to follow his own way and he tried to run as far as he could in the other direction. But when he boarded a ship headed to Tarshish, his troubles got even worse and he was eventually thrown into the raging sea. But as we saw last week, God still wasn’t done with Jonah so he provided for Jonah’s salvation from drowning. And He did that in a most unusual way – by sending a great fish to swallow Jonah.
Perhaps there are some of you here this morning who feel like you or drowning or even like you have hit rock bottom. And if that is not true in your life right now, I can assure you that there will be a time, or probably multiple times in your life, where that is going to be the case.
And when you hit those bottoms, you are going to rightly feel like there is nothing that you can do on your own in order to bounce back and find success. But the good news is that because of His great love for you, God is there for you and He is both willing and able to help you do that. But in order for Him to be able to do that in your life, he does require your cooperation.
Before we look at chapter 2 of Jonah this morning, I want to take a moment to review a couple important ideas from last week.
First of all, I want to remind you of the two things that I hope to accomplish over our four-week study of the book of Jonah:
1) I want us all to develop a greater appreciation for the love of a God who constantly pursues us even when we run away from Him, and
2) I want us all to develop a deeper love for others, especially for those who might seem far from God or who might be so much different from us.
The second thing I want to remind us of is the main theme for the book that we developed last week:
Because of His relentless love,
God does not give up on us
even when we give up on Him
Last week, we saw how that was true for the pagan sailors on the ship that Jonah boarded. Even though those men previously wanted nothing to do with the Lord, God used His sovereign control over His creation and a few words from a reluctant prophet to bring them to the place where they feared God enough to pray to Him and to worship Him with sacrifices and vows.
This morning, in chapter 2, we’re going to see how God pursues Jonah, even though Jonah has decided to reject Him and to choose His own way rather than God’s way. Even though Jonah has largely given up on God, God has certainly not given up on him.
[Read Jonah 2:1-10]
As I pointed out last week, it’s easy to view the book of Jonah as just a fish story. But as important as the fish is to the story, the story is not primarily about the fish. It’s also easy to think this is a story about a reluctant prophet. But even though the book bears his name, this story is only secondarily about Jonah. At its heart, this is a story about the love of God and how He is willing to pursue even those who are far away from Him and those who have given up on Him because He loves them so very much.
As we look at this prayer of Jonah this morning, we need to remember that this is probably only a snapshot of what Jonah prayed. This prayer is in the form of a Psalm and in fact it borrows heavily from a number of Psalms. But I have a hard time believing that as Jonah was thrown overboard and fighting for his life that his prayers were quite this poetic and eloquent. They were probably more along the lines of “Help me!” And even once Jonah is swallowed by the fish, it’s not like he pulled out a flashlight and a pen and paper and listened to some worship music on his iPod while he was in the belly of a fish and decided to write the lyrics to a song. So what we have here is likely what Jonah wrote later in order to summarize all the things that he prayed while he was inside the fish.