You may remember the biblical account of Jonah, the man who set his jaw and decided not to do what God had asked him. Instead of preaching repentance to those wretched Ninevites, Jonah hopped aboard the next boat to Tarshish, trying to escape the presence of the LORD. But the Bible says you can’t hide from God (Psalm 139:7-12).
The Bible says, “the LORD sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken.” The mariners traveling with Jonah were terrified. What in the world was going on? Jonah confessed that he was the cause of the storm.
“Cast me forth into the sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you: for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you,” Jonah said (Jonah 1:12.)
That ended his shipmates’ problems, but Jonah plummeted to the depths of the sea, facing certain death. God was there to catch him when he fell. The Bible says, “the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.”
Was it happenstance that strong winds rocked the ship bound for Tarshish and nearly destroyed it? No. God sent that storm. Was it mere fate that caused a huge fish to happen along to catch Jonah when he fell? No. God sent that fish. The lesson wasn’t wasted on Jonah, either. He knew exactly what was going on. God had a plan for Jonah’s life, and God’s plans can’t be thwarted.
There was a time when I wasn’t walking with the Lord. I received Christ when I was eleven, but my parents stopped taking us to church not long after that. I didn’t have the love and support of encouraging youth group leaders, and I wasn’t sitting under the teaching of a good Bible-believing pastor. I was just kind of out twisting in the wind. But the wind was in God’s hand, and so was I. I wasn’t hidden from His sight. One day He sent a big fish. The fish’s name was spina bifida. When my first child was born with this birth defect, it caused me to get my priorities straight in a big hurry, to return to the God who loves me and died for me. I wanted to rear my children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, as the Bible tells us to do.
I want our family in church. I don’t want my children out twisting in the wind because they have no direction. I don’t want them to make the same mistakes I made. I want them to walk with God always and never turn away from His will for their lives.
We have to understand that God loves us and cares for us. We may get lost in the storms of life, but sometimes those storms are our own doing—as in Jonah’s case. Praise be to God, on the wings of the storm sometimes God sends a big fish. While it’s no fun to be trapped in the belly of a big fish, sometimes that fish turns out to be our deliverance from an even greater catastrophe: sudden death, or, worse yet, imminent eternal death.
Jonah cried out to God and God had His ear bent toward Jonah to receive his pleas for mercy and forgiveness. Had it not been for the great fish God sent, Jonah would have perished in the depths of the sea. God spared Jonah and supernaturally kept him alive—in a fish’s belly. Then, after three days, the fish vomited Jonah up on dry ground (Jonah 2:10). For the sake of all the people in Nineveh who were headed for hell and needed to hear about God’s love and mercy, Jonah needed an attitude adjustment.
Maybe you’ve been through something horrible. Maybe you’re going through something horrible right now. You know, God has His ear bent toward you, too. Are you ready to receive God’s mercy and forgiveness? He sent His Son that you might have it. The Bible says, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). Sincerely trust in the Lord Jesus, and He can and will deliver you from your bondage of sin.