August 05, 2017

Jonah’s Prayer Song

Jonah 2

In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me.

—  Jonah 2:2

The seaweed wrapped around Jonah, dragging him down, threatening to drown him in a watery grave. Suddenly a large fish swallowed him. Admittedly, the belly of the fish was a precarious place to be, but it was also an act of grace. God had placed him there. I’m not sure Jonah saw it that way—certainly not right away. But his prayer consists of many parts of songs he knew well from the Psalms, the song book of God’s people.

When I was going through a crisis, I said to a friend, “I feel like I am being swallowed up like Jonah.” The next day my friend sent an email with a picture of Jonah in a smiling whale and this comment, “Like Jonah, you need to realize this is the best place for you to be right now.” How does one come to that realization?

Are you going through a time of crisis? Read the psalms and note how the authors cry out to God. Meditate on comforting hymns like “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” or “Great is Thy Faithfulness,” until the healing streams of God’s love restore your soul. Then you too will echo Jonah’s song of thanksgiving: “Salvation comes from the Lord.”

Jesus compares Jonah’s time in the fish to the time between his own death and resurrection. Only because of what Jesus did can we sing, “Salvation comes from the Lord.”

Thank you, Lord, for songs based on your Word that have found a place in our hearts and have given us a reservoir of grace. Help us to focus on you when we feel swallowed up by life. Amen.

About the author — John Van Schepen

Dr. John Van Schepen is a retired pastor who served churches in Washington, Wisconsin, Indiana, Oregon and California. He and his wife, Willie, have been blessed with five children and several grandchildren.

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