“To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever. But you, Lord my God, brought my life up from the pit. When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, Lord, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple. Those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God’s love for them. But I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.’” Jonah 2:6-9
After a long day at work, I plopped down on the couch, flipped on the television and tried to unwind when suddenly something went swooshing by me. WHAT WAS THAT? I wondered if I was delirious and seeing things out of pure exhaustion. I went back to flipping channels, and then ZOOM...something buzzed by me again. I knew I wasn't going crazy when I heard a thud and some very loud squawking.
Somehow, someway, a startled and frightened bird had become my new roommate. The poor thing beat its wings against the window to escape. As it darted from here to there in a panic, the chirping helped me find it, open the door and enable it to fly out and experience some freedom.
The bird wasn't where it was meant to be, and neither was Jonah. Running from God lead him to be cast into the sea and swallowed by a sea creature. Inside the belly of a whale, he resided for three days and three nights. For Jonah, it might have felt like the end, but in reality, it was just the beginning of his story.
Maybe the abyss is where you find yourself right now. Perhaps its due to some bad decisions or ill-advised actions on your part. You're trying to escape your guilt, shame, pride or anger and distance yourself from God.
Or, through no fault of your own, maybe you've encountered rough waters - a loss of a job, a health scare, a strained relationship, etc. All hope seems lost. The rising waters overwhelm you, and it feels like you're drowning and you don't know where to turn. You can't tell up from down, and it feels like those troubling circumstances are dragging you down.
Sometimes it requires that everything is stripped away for us to understand our need for Him. When we're down to nothing, we have to trust that God is up to something. He's getting our attention. He's showing us our helplessness. He's inviting us to trust.
Our laments serve as an acknowledgment and declaration that things aren't like they should be. Our cries not only make their way to God's ears, they capture our attention and shed light on not only where we're running from God, but also the places we're running towards in hopes of finding rescue and relief. Disappointment serves as a revealer because it exposes what we hold onto in hopes it will lead to life: a job, family, success, recognition, finances, etc.
It doesn't matter how deep you've sunk, God's love reaches deeper. He heard Jonah's prayers, and He's listening to yours as well.
Where do you need rescue?
God, I praise You for being my refuge in times of trouble. My world could be crumbling, but You still are my foundation. You pick me up when I stumble. You set my feet on solid ground. May I walk in that confidence today. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.