“Help I need somebody, help, not just anybody, help, you know I need someone, now,” the Beatles sang. What drives you to cry out for help, who do you cry out to, where do you go for help? In 1865, William Tecumseh Sherman wrote to Ulysses S. Grant, “I knew wherever I was, if I was in a tight place, you’d come to help, if alive.” What if he wasn’t alive, what would Sherman do then? God is the only place to go for help, and Jonah was learning that lesson.
Jonah made a mess of his life. He was angry with God, and although a prophet and believer, he was back-sliding, overtaken in sin, a brother caught in transgression. He was angry with God and running away. God said, “I’m not going to have that,” and hurled a storm, cast lots, isolated Jonah to deal with him in the ocean. Jonah’s shenanigans would not stop God, His plan and purposes and will. God always wins, God always gets His way. He cast Jonah into the sea, and while he was flailing around, God worked: He appointed a fish to save Jonah.
And Jonah prayed, acknowledging his sin and only his God who could save. He was moved with emotion and cried out, admitting God’s punishment and discipline, “You cast me into the deep, the flood surrounded me, your waves and billows passed over me, waters closed in over me to take my life, weeds wrapped around my head. My life was fainting away, from the belly of the grave, but you heard me and answered me. Salvation belongs to the Lord!” Think about the weight of your sin, the wages of your sin is death. What has your sin gotten you? How’s that sin thing working out for you? Look to God; salvation belongs to Him alone. He is the Savior, and there is no hope from vain idols, “empty nothings” who cannot love or hear or see or respond to you.
Jonah was alive but should be drowned and dead. He deserved death but instead God gave life, a second chance; He appointed the fish and saved him. Jonah experienced God’s grace, God did not treat him as he should have. Our God saves! God does not treat you as He should either, as you deserve. You deserve the same as Jonah, death for sin, but God grants life. God restores His people when they fall. Thank you, God!
How does your prayer life look today, are you praying prayers of repentance and confession and salvation and thanksgiving? Are you acknowledging God and your sin and the Savior? You haven’t gone too far down or too far in. You are never too far from God that He can’t save. Are you weary of your sin? Confess and repent and come back to Him today. A famous hymn goes like this: “I heard the voice of Jesus say, ‘Come on to me and rest, lay down thou weary one, lay down your head upon my breast.’ And I came to Jesus just as I was, wounded, weary, sad, and I found in him a resting place, and he has made me glad.”