Do you sometimes wonder if God hears your prayers?
Jonah has hit rock bottom. It began with Jonah running away from God, followed by a steep descent – down to Joppa, down below deck on the ship, down into a deep sleep, and finally, in the belly of a fish, Jonah finds himself in “the depths of the grave”.
Jonah has an interesting perspective on how he got there: “you hurled me into the deep…all your waves and breakers swept over me”. But who, when facing difficulties, doesn’t get confused about what is really going on?
In the depths Jonah fears God has cut him off: “I have been banished from your sight”, with no way back, “the earth beneath me barred me in forever.” But as soon as Jonah turns his eyes to God (“I will look again towards your holy temple”) God intervenes to save: “You brought my life up from the pit”. Jonah declares, “salvation comes from the LORD”.
If God can hear a prayer uttered deep in the ocean, in the belly of a fish, we can trust he hears our prayers. No matter how hopeless things appear, there is always a way back to life with God. Our turning away is no barrier to God reaching down in love and drawing us back to himself. Our failures are always opportunities for God to turn our dead ends into new beginnings. Of course, as Jonah reflects, this requires us to let go of our worthless idols, so that we can experience just how poorly they compare to the grace of God. Whatever we are facing today, the LORD – in our lives, as in Jonah’s – is the only source of salvation.