Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from inside the fish.
He said, “I cried out to the Lord in my great trouble, and he answered me.
I called to you from the land of the dead, and Lord, you heard me!”
Jonah 2:1-2 NLT
Difficulties are a part of the human experience. From the death of a loved one to unemployment to a difficult school assignment, difficulties run the gamut.
Jonah too found himself in a difficult situation. God told him to go to Ninevah, capital of the Assyrian empire. A very wicked city. God wanted him to tell the people that destruction was on the horizon if they did not repent.
Jonah didn’t want to go there. He had no love for the Assyrians and no desire to warn them about God’s judgment. So he ran to Joppa and hopped a ship going to Tarshish—the opposite direction of where God told him to go.
God wasn’t happy about Jonah’s disobedience. He sent a great wind that threatened to break apart the ship. The sailors were afraid and cried out to their god. They threw cargo into the sea to lighten the load. Meanwhile, Jonah was below the deck sound asleep. The captain finally awoke him and told him to call on his god. Then the sailors cast lots to find out who is responsible for this storm. The lot fell on Jonah. They questioned him to see where he was from and what he had done to cause such a difficulty. Jonah confessed and told them to throw him overboard so the sea would be calm again. The men didn’t want to take such a drastic action, so they rowed harder. Finally, making no progress, they prayed to the Lord, asking him not to hold them responsible for the loss of this man’s life, and tossed Jonah into the sea. Immediately the sea stopped raging.
Jonah in the meantime found himself in a difficult situation. Even in his anger, the Lord was kind and prepared a large fish to swallow Jonah. Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. While in this difficult situation, he gives us the keys for handling difficult situations.
REMEMBER THE LORD
Jonah said; “As my life was ebbing away, I remembered the Lord.”
Life in the belly of the fish was no doubt unpleasant. Slime, seaweed, stench. A disgusting place for a prophet of God to be. While in this place of meditation, Jonah must have remembered all the Lord had done for him. Though a difficult situation, Jonah remembered the Lord. Here, the magnanimity of his disobedience must have taken hold.
When we find ourselves in difficult times, we too need to remember the Lord. Straying from God’s will and finding ourselves in difficult situations is easy. Sometimes it takes discipline from a loving heavenly Father to help us remember him and all he’s done for us. We have the tendency to forget God in the good times and rely on ourselves.
When that difficult time comes in your life, remember the Lord as Jonah did. Remember he will see you through these times as he has in the past. Trust in him in the good and in the difficult times. Remember what he has done for you.
Jonah testifies to having done this also. He said; “As my life was ebbing away, I remembered the Lord; and my prayer came to you.”
Prayer is important. We need to pray on a regular basis. The Bible says to pray without ceasing. This means for us to be in an attitude of prayer at all times. It is especially important that we pray in difficult times. Prayer will carry us through the difficulties of life just as it did Jonah.
We need to pray as individuals. Prayer is our lifeline to God and the only way we can survive as Christians. In spite of our busy schedules, we also need to pray as families. Family devotions are important. We also need corporate prayer. Churches need to pray together.
We need to praise God through prayer in the good times and for the good things he provides for us, but we need to be close to him in the difficult times as well. Instead of letting the difficult times drive you away from God, let them force you closer to him through prayer.
GO TO CHURCH
There was no church in Jonah’s time, but there was the temple. Jonah said; “And my prayer came to you, into your holy temple.”
Church is a wonderful place to be anytime, but it is a special place to be in difficult times. Don’t wait until the difficult time comes before seeking God. Be in God’s house in the easy times and in the difficult times. The church is a loving family that seeks to give love to those who are hurting.
What will you do the next time a difficulty strikes?