This Jonah Project blog reflects upon one verse per week from the Book of Jonah. The past ten weeks have been focused upon Jonah chapter two, upon Jonah’s prayer from inside the great fish. Here are a few highlights.
1. Where do you go “inside” to pray? Life looks different from the inside looking out than it does from the outside looking in. This week, go “inside”, close the “door”, and pray to God in secret as Jesus teaches. In so doing, open your heart to look out with compassion upon the world, to care for others, and bring them before God’s presence.
2. Jonah called to the Lord in his distress inside the great fish, from a place of intense suffering, being crushed, pressed, face to face with death. You too may be in a place of distress, pressed down, crushed under weights you did not choose, and inwardly suffering. Jonah teaches us how to pray when in distress.
3. We discover more of the way of resilience by listening in on Jonah at prayer. The prayer of Jonah is a gift to anyone who faces hardships, a gift which guides us to the great prayer book of the Bible, the Book of Psalms. Learn to pray from the Psalms.
4. God hears the cry of the forsaken. God’s eyes look with compassion upon all who pray to God in times of suffering. Look again towards God’s holy temple. Bring before God’s gaze the people of this world who are banished, exiled, displaced or forsaken.
5. In Jonah’s prayer in the dark, he tells of deep troubles we face in this life. Putting these into questions, Jonah asks: What threatens me? What deep troubles surround me? What wraps around my head to enslave me?
6. Down in the roots of the mountains in the dark, most of us face an inner duel within our soul between light and dark, life and death. When life may seem as if the darkness will imprison you forever, within the depths of your soul, cry out to the Lordyour God to bring your life out of the pit into the freshness of night air, as you gaze anew into the starry wonder of the galaxies spinning overhead.
7. Our lives are tidal. We all experience ebb and flow through days, years, and over the course of a lifetime. In any group of people you meet, and you’ll find some whose life is ebbing away, while others are experiencing the incoming flow of new found life and purpose.
8. As a “perpetual factory of idols,” humans make idols of anything, including money, sex, power, position, careers, sleep, food, drink, and especially our own life. Our world today is still crammed full of idols and the problem of idolatry is still widespread. What is of greatest worth in your life? What are you clinging to? What is worthy of being at the center of your life?
9. Jonah shouts. Even when crammed in the belly of the great fish, Jonah shouts out his gratitude and praise to God. There is great power in giving thanks and praise to God, even shouting thanks. Rather than keeping it pent up, or quietly tiptoeing around our soul like a sleepwalker, try Jonah’s medicine, and shout thanks to God.
10. Jesus chooses Jonah, a runaway prophet vomited up onto dry land on the third day, as the one sign he gives to his generation, the sign of Jonah. In my mind this choice stands as one of the greatest marvels in holy history, as Jesus offers hope and help to all who have runaway from God, to all who have been in the deep, to all who have been swallowed up by darkness or fear or despair, to all who seek the light and wonder of a new day.
See Thomas Robinson’s online photo gallery at www.zoomdak.com