“Who is responsible for making all this trouble for us?”
In the storms of life we often ask “why”. The sailors ask Jonah, ”Who?” In the midst of the storm, they receive an answer, as God is revealed through what Jonah says. Jonah declares who God is, “The LORD, the God of heaven and earth, who made the sea and the land” and confesses his own wrongdoing, “I know it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you”.
Confronted with the reality of the God behind the storm, and of human wrongdoing, the sailors do what we all try to do at first: they try to save themselves. But it only makes the storm worse.
The surprise in the text is that pagan sailors who did not know God before Jonah came onboard cry out to God, address him as LORD, and ask for forgiveness. This happens not in spite of the storm, but because of it. God responds to their action and their prayer: the storm is stilled. The sailors respond in worship. Jonah, whose testimony about God led the sailors to salvation, also experiences God’s grace and mercy, as God provides and saves his life. The storm, rather than bringing death, brought salvation to everyone.
Amidst every storm we face, God is always working to save. Could it possibly be that in this midst of this particular storm, when we are surrounded by death, that God is doing what he always does: bringing life and salvation to many? Are we seeking God in the storm, and do our lives reveal God to those who are experiencing the darkness of this storm without him?