Word for Today – Jonah 2:1

From the Belly of the Fish

Yuck! Can you imagine sloshing around in the belly of a fish? I think Jonah did the right thing when he cried out to God. I would have cried out as I wept in disgust and pity. However, when I read this part of the Jonah, I noticed something interesting. Prior to this moment, no where is it recorded that Jonah sought God.

Here we have a wayward prophet attempting to flee from God, because he does not want to preach redemption to the Ninevites. No where in the book of Jonah does the prophet seek God’s direction on this matter. Conversely, Jesus asked for the “cup” he faced to pass from him, yet he sought God’s will as he faced death on the cross (Matthew 26:36-42).

I guess Jonah finally decided he needed a little one-on-one time with God, when he found himself all soggy in the belly of a fish along with other sea hors d’oeuvres, stomach acids, and other gross stuff.

Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the belly of the fish saying, “I called to the Lord out of my distress and he answered me.” (Jonah 1:1-2 NRSV)

Although there have been recent accounts of people being pulled from the bellies of sea creatures, I doubt that will ever be the average persons reality. But, most of us have probably been in the “belly of a fish” in some form. Belly of the fish can be synonymous with:

  • Hitting rock bottom
  • In the gutter
  • I’m in trouble now
  • Living the “worse case scenario”
  • Uh oh…..

How many of us don’t utilize prayer until we are churning around in the belly of our own fish? How many of us are faithful prayers before tough times hit? Well, the good news is that, no matter the frequency of our communication with God, he answers our prayers just like he did for Jonah. Of course, he wants to talk to us on a regular basis, but he also is kind, compassionate, and loves to help us through our trying times.

Whether the “bellies” we face are a traumatic event beyond our control or the consequences of our bad choices, God is there. No matter what belly engulfs us, we need to pray. If we’ve been praying previously, that is great, but God listens even if our chats with him are infrequent.

When God saved Jonah and had the fish spit the undigested man out on dry land, I doubt Jonah had the same appearance before being gobbled up. Many scholars (backed up by actual, modern-day accounts) think that Jonah had a strange appearance after all the stomach activity he encountered. It’s possible that his skin was blotchy when he entered Ninevah.

His appearance may be what caused the Ninevites to sit up and listen to his words. Despite the prayers we lift up during time spent in a “belly”, we will have scars. But, sometimes those scars help us reach others; much like Jonah touched the Ninevites. God hears our everyday prayers, and he hears the prayers we speak from the “bellies” of our own life experiences. There may be some scars, but trust that God will use them to help others.

Word for Today: God hears our prayers from the belly of the fish.

1. Do you pray on a regular basis?

2. Think about the results from a time you prayed to God from the “belly of a fish.”

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This entry was posted on Thursday, September 23rd, 2010 at 4:47 pm and is filed under jonah, Word for the Day. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


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