In a Bad Place
by Richard Griffiths
20 October 2022« Previous Day | Next Day »
Jonah was in a very bad place. As an Ellel prayer minister, I meet plenty of people who are in a bad place. And, like most of us, I’ve been in bad places, too. It may be feelings of rejection; or depression; or physical illness. It could be relationship issues; or guilt or shame, or perhaps just feeling a long way from God.
Yes, Jonah was in a very bad place. What could be worse than being inside a fish? He was in a bad place in his relationship with God, too. Talk of wilful disobedience! One of God’s chosen prophets deliberately running away from the task God had given him.
But, when he was in the worst place imaginable, he cried out to God and God heard him. Of course, He did – He always does. It’s really worth looking at Jonah’s prayer while he was still inside the fish. Three times he says, ‘But’. ‘I thought, “I have been banished from your sight”, but I will again look at your holy temple’ (verse 4). ‘I was going down … to a land whose bars would close me in forever; but you brought me up alive from the pit’ (verse 6). ‘Those who worship vain idols give up their source of mercy; but I, speaking my thanks aloud, will sacrifice to you’ (verses 8-9).
When we find ourselves in a bad place it’s hard to have much faith. I guess Jonah’s faith was pretty well at rock bottom. He said, ‘I thought I’ve been banished from your sight.’ But, even so, ‘from the belly of the fish Jonah prayed to God’ (verse 1). Lack of faith isn’t a reason to stop praying. It’s a reason to start praying. As he prayed, faith grew. And with faith, came hope. He will look again at God’s temple. He will speak out his thanks.
The story ends with Jonah making a great declaration: ‘Salvation comes from God’. No sooner had he said it, than ‘God spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out on to dry land’ (verse 10).
Maybe you’re not in a bad place right now. Great! You’ve much to praise God for. But the truth is, being the people we are, and living in the world as it is, we’re not exempt from finding ourselves in a bad place. Maybe things aren’t at all good for you right now. Here are the lessons I’ve learned from Jonah. Don’t wait until you feel you’ve got enough faith before you start praying. As you pray, faith and hope will begin to grow. Declare the truth – however unbelievable you find it – over your situation. Who knows what God will do?
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