Summary: Jonah's story serves as proof that you can't keep a good man down.
You Can't Keep a Good Man Down
I think that there’s something in all of us that likes to rally around those who’ve been knocked down but they always seem to find a way to get back up. Rocky is a perfect example of what I’m talking about. I get fired every time I watch the underdog overcome his opponents; it never gets old to me. Because I love to see someone who, when it appears there’s no way out, comes through.
Jonah’s story also serves as proof that you can’t keep a good man down. He was thrown overboard during the storm; he was swallowed by a great fish. For three days and three nights, he was tossed around in the belly of that great fish as it swam into the depths of the sea, but then the Bible tells us, “the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land” 2:10. Jonah gets up, wipes the seaweed off his face, and then the Bible says, “The word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time” 3:1.
Many of us are like Jonah today. God has called us to something greater yet we’ve refused to embrace this calling because of our fear, uncertainty or simply because we just don’t want to do it. And because of our disobedience, we’ve been swallowed up by our circumstances. We are in need of an escape. But I believe the reason we remain trapped by our circumstances is so we can learn some valuable lessons. It took Jonah three days and three nights to learn those lessons. How long will it take you to learn the lessons of your entrapment?
There are four things about Jonah’s character that I want for us to see. First of all, Jonah was…
1. A man of PRAYER (Vv. 1-6)
There are some important questions to ask regarding Jonah’s prayer life at this particular point in his journey. When did he pray? Who did he pray to? What did he pray? First, let's look at when he prayed.
Jonah was afflicted when he called out to God. Not much has changed since the days of Jonah. It’s amazing to me that many of God’s people wait until they’re afflicted to call out to God. Rather than going to God before we wind up in the fish’s belly in the first place, we wait until we are stuck. So here’s what I want us to understand…if we continue to go our own way in rebellion against God’s will, the result will be pain and hardship.
Some people will look to anything and everything to help them in their moment of affliction: pills, books, counselors. But listen to Jonah: “I cried out to the Lord because of my affliction, And He answered me.”
I thank God that I can call on Him anytime…even when I’ve neglected Him before, God still hears our prayers and He still answers them. No matter who you are or where you are, you can call on God in your affliction. Jonah’s experience is a proclamation of hope. He cried out in his affliction and found deliverance — and so can we. The first step in getting out of the fish’s belly is to call out to God, to pray.
A second important aspect of Jonah’s prayer is found in whom he prayed to. Even though Jonah rebelled against God, he didn’t forget that God was still God. And more importantly, God didn’t forget Jonah. Jonah didn’t earn this relationship with God and he certainly didn’t deserve it, but he knew that he could still talk to God through prayer.
I think the problem many believers suffer from today is that they think that have a broken relationship with God when actually they just have broken fellowship. There’s a big difference. Some of us have gone our own way, leaving the will of God, and have been battered by the storm and swallowed up in into the fish’s belly.
So many people walk around wearing masks, pretending to be someone they’re not so that other people will like them. And it’s one thing to wear our masks around each other, but then we try to do the same thing with God. Some people pray as if they’re trying to impress Him, but we need to remember that God knows us. He knows your heart.
Jonah’s prayer was open and honest. If we think we can impress God by trying to act like everything’s ok when it’s clearly not then we’ve got it all wrong. I don’t know where people came up with the idea that once they get saved they’ll never have any more afflictions in life. The good news is that God can and will deliver us from those afflictions, but like Jonah we have to be open and honest with Him.