Scripture: Jonah 1:17-2:10
Key verses: (3-5)
You cast me into the deep,
into the heart of the seas,
and the flood surrounded me;
all your waves and your billows
passed over me.
4Then I said, ‘I am driven away
from your sight;
how shall I look again
upon your holy temple?’
5The waters closed in over me;
the deep surrounded me;
weeds were wrapped around my head
Reflection: Life and death. My experience in our culture is that we shy away from death. It’s not a subject we like to engage. In this passage, life and death are intertwined. It begins with the large fish “swallowing” Jonah and taking him to what many say is the neverworld, a place of death. The passage ends with the fish “spewing” Jonah out upon the dry land, and back to life.
The uncertainty is that the large fish signifies both death and life. Jonah was saved from drowning by the fish, and while in the saving, the fish took him to Sheol. Within the confines of death, Jonah is alive; the fish keeps him safe until he is back on dry land. This could be seen in different ways, Jonah has gone to die, or the fish has saved him from ultimate death. Perspective makes the difference.
The passage makes me think about when I’ve felt like I’ve been dying; these have been times of feeling overwhelmed, sometimes at work, and sometimes in my personal life. Many times, I’ve found myself praying to God for some relief. Often, it comes in unexpected forms. I remember an instance when I felt overwhelmed at work, and then heard of a friend who was diagnosed with a terminal disease. God reminded me what is really important; my perspective was changed. It was a matter of seeing my challenges in a new way.
Prayer: Thank you, God, for changing our perspectives, and for reminding us what is truly important. Help us come out of the heart of the seas and see how you are working to save us. Be with us as we strive to see you in our lives. Amen.
Author: Amy Speas
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].