[Guest post by Onome. This post is a part of the 2015 Devotional Diva Christmas series entitled, “Extraordinary Christmas.” It was originally published on Devotional Diva in 2014.]
I was reading my five-year-old’s Bible one day when I ran into the Jonah story. Reading it through the eyes of a child gave me a better perspective.
I was hit by the realization that Jonah was actually in the belly of a fish when he prayed and God heard him.
I went back to read the passage from my Bible. In Jonah 1:17, the Bible recorded that God had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.
Now the belly of a fish can be anything in the present world: it can be sickness, poverty, debt, lack of friends, helpers, insecurity, joblessness…
I am moved to wonder how Jonah felt in that dark place. I have never been in the belly of a fish, but slicing through my mackerel fish on my kitchen table leaves me to wonder how Jonah felt in there.
Yes, I know the fish was very big, because the Bible called it a great fish, but it was still a fish.It had digestive systems both large and small, a heart and organs inside that just kept working and grinding and I am sure Jonah would just wonder if he would not be mashed up.
But I really wonder why he wasn’t. Now scientifically, everything that goes through the mouth goes through a digestive process and I am sure for a fish, the story is the same. So what happened to Jonah, why was this story different?
This just made me remember my heart loving the verse in psalms 23 that says:
“Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, the Lord is with me.”
Friends, I know we have all been in the belly of a great fish at some time in our Christian journey.
We found ourselves in this belly of a fish, but you know something important — even while he was there, Jonah still prayed and called on God.
I recall an experience I had some time ago. During the yuletide season, God had instructed me through one of His servants that my family should not travel during that season, but that we should spend that time together as a family.
For some reason, this instruction was not obeyed. It had come at a time when we had made all our plans for the year and closed our books and all we just wanted to do was unwind. I was very young in the faith at that time.
Before we started our journey that day, I was instructed by the spirit to go back into my house, remove all my jewelry, drop my phone and replace the SIM card into my childrens’ nearly dead phone. I obeyed.
We prayed and set forth on this journey. We stopped at so many points, bought food, ate, and prayed. We were quite in the joyful mood with our children.
But not too far from our family home, we were accosted by armed robbers.
I was in total shock. I had with me my three children, one of whom was my daughter who at that time, was just 1 year and 1 month old and she just would not stop crying. The robbers collected everything from us: money, my husband’s new phone — and then we all ran into the bushes.
More cars were stopped and robbed. That for me was a Jonah’s belly encounter.
During that time, I kept pleading the blood of Jesus and crying for mercy. I kept begging God to deliver us. Although it was an experience that lasted for between 15 – 20 minutes, it felt like a three days and three nights encounter.
Friend, anything could have happened. Stray bullets could have moved, anybody could have been hurt — but God was God.
Even in my disobedience, God showed to me that He was God, he showed to me that when we cry in the day of trouble, He is very faithful to hear us.
The word of God became so real to me after that experience and I knew, indeed, there is a God in heaven that loves His children and would never allow them to wander in the time of need. The Bible calls Him our very present help in time of trouble. (Psalm 46:1)
Friends, God warned me like Jonah but I decided to go my own way. Life is a teacher, but some lessons leave a deep scar that only God can remove.
My children had a phobia for road travel afterwards and I cannot say the least for myself. But I know of many stories I have read after our experience that ended in rape, molestation and even death, but God spared us like Jonah.
God is real and His word is real. Let’s talk of your own real life Jonah experience, let’s share from your belly of the fish experience and how God delivered you. Maybe your own story ended up with a scar like mine or even one bigger than mine, but I want to tell you that God is still on the throne and He is working to turn all our mess to a message for this generation.
Onome is a mother to God’s beautiful gifts, a wife and a writer. A woman with a heart for God and a counselor who likes to listen and share God’s love through words. She likes to share her life story so that others can learn and be guided.