THE HOPE OF DESPAIR
Help me to walk by faith, not by sight today (2 Corinthians 5:7).
Read Jonah 2
2 1 [a]From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God. 2 He said:
“In my distress I called to the Lord,
and he answered me.
From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help,
and you listened to my cry.
3 You hurled me into the depths,
into the very heart of the seas,
and the currents swirled about me;
all your waves and breakers
swept over me.
4 I said, ‘I have been banished
from your sight;
yet I will look again
toward your holy temple.’
5 The engulfing waters threatened me,[b]
the deep surrounded me;
seaweed was wrapped around my head.
6 To the roots of the mountains I sank down;
the earth beneath barred me in forever.
But you, Lord my God,
brought my life up from the pit.
7 “When my life was ebbing away,
I remembered you, Lord,
and my prayer rose to you,
to your holy temple.
8 “Those who cling to worthless idols
turn away from God’s love for them.
9 But I, with shouts of grateful praise,
will sacrifice to you.
What I have vowed I will make good.
I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.’”
10 And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.
a Jonah 2:1 In Hebrew texts 2:1 is numbered 1:17, and 2:1-10 is numbered 2:2-11.
b Jonah 2:5 Or waters were at my throat
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectThink of some times when you have been aware of God’s presence in periods of despair.
Jonah’s physical and spiritual turmoil entwine. He is flipped and battered by the ocean and dragged to the depths. His spiritual journey endures wild, dark places of abandonment, distrust and despair. Jonah’s departure from God was in his control. But his life became overwhelmingly chaotic. Some of us will recognize dark despair from our own or others’ experience. The darkness is real, as it was for Jonah.
It is God in control now (6b). He acts instinctively from compassion and saves Jonah. Although harrowing, times of despair also hold hope because God is there. Jonah’s ability to even remember God is evidence that God has remembered and is present with Jonah. It is the same for us. In the space of the fish’s belly Jonah reflects. He calls out and God hears (2). Jonah emerges from darkness, shouting excitedly about the true God (9)! God, loving even small steps towards Him, builds on that faith. He lands Jonah safely on the beach.
Saved but not sorted, Jonah has renewed zeal for God’s salvation. However, the same compassion that rescued Jonah is the very compassion Jonah would deny Nineveh.
Transformation is God’s continuing process for us of shedding and renewing thinking. The journey continues. We also can be grateful that God walks with us the whole way.
Do you know someone who is struggling to hold onto hope today? How can you hold out the hope of the Gospel to them today?
This world is so full of darkness, my Savior, but You are light. Help me to shine the light of Your Word to those around me.