Second chance despair
As my life was slipping away, I remembered the LORD. And my earnest prayer went out to you in your holy Temple. – Jonah 2:7
1 Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from inside the fish.
2 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!
3 You threw me into the ocean depths, and I sank down to the heart of the sea. The mighty waters engulfed me; I was buried beneath your wild and stormy waves.
7 As my life was slipping away, I remembered the LORD. And my earnest prayer went out to you in your holy Temple.
9 I will fulfill all my vows. For my salvation comes from the LORD alone.”
10 Then the LORD ordered the fish to spit Jonah out onto the beach.
The original Skid Row was a neighborhood in Downtown Los Angeles covering over 50 city blocks immediately east of downtown.
Now the term “skid row” refers to an area of a city where people live who are “on the skids,” derives from a logging term. Loggers would transport their logs to a nearby river by sliding them down roads made from greased skids. Loggers who had accompanied the load to the bottom of the road would wait there for transportation back up the hill to the logging camp.
The term began to be used for places where people with no money and nothing to do gathered, becoming the generic term in English-speaking North America for a depressed area in a city.
Jonah was “on the skids.” Sometimes we only see the light when we are in abject darkness. Despair can and often does lead to repentance. Jonah had slid down the slippery skids of the whale’s gullet. He was in total darkness. Upon reflection, his hardened stubborn heart began to mellow. He finally figured it out, stubborn reluctance to yield to the Father’s direction has collateral damage and pays negative dividends.
Jonah 2:2 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 had finally hit absolute bottom and was in utter despair. But he knew and understood the Father’s heart. Jonah trusted that He would deliver him. When the Father calls, the best thing to do is to answer: “Here I am, what would you have your servant do?” (Gen 22:1, Exod 3:4, 1 Sam 3:4)
Jonah was called to be a prophet. He is now willing to serve Him with his whole heart no matter what. But he still has issues which are exposed and resolved before the book concludes. But that’s a story for another day.
1 Then the LORD spoke to Jonah a second time:
2 “Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh and deliver the message I have given you.”
3 This time Jonah obeyed the LORD’s command and went to Nineveh, a city so large that it took three days to see it all.
REFLECT & PRAY
The Father is a God of second chances. He never gives up on us. He is faithful! 2 Tim 2:13 If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.
Father there is so much of Jonah within me. I only catch glimpses of him now and then. Thank you for graciously and mercifully dealing with me. Encourage me to serve you with my whole heart.
The Father reaches out to each of us in pure grace. There is nothing about us that commends us to Him. In our fallen natural states, we are essentially selfish and live to please ourselves. The Father is motivated by pure and total love. His lovingkindness compels Him. He wants us to be the same way. Jonah’s journey is our journey.
14 Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life.
15 He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.
16 So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now!
17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
18 And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him.
“A Jonah lurks in every Christian heart, whispering his insidious message of smug prejudice, empty traditionalism, and exclusive solidarity. And we grasp the message of the book only when we eliminate the Jonah within us” (Leslie Allen).
Deu 30:19 I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live.
If our lives are out of harmony with the Father, then we are out of tune and our lives are in discord. We do not have music but noise in our soul. The Father will make music in our lives if we walk in fellowship with Him (Richison).
At any time, the Father may bring dissonance into our lives. Of course it is not pleasant at the moment it occurs. But the Father is following an eternal blueprint worked out before He established the foundations of the earth. We do not know all the factors as to why He does this; however, there is one thing that we do know, “the Father is too good to do wrong and He is too wise to make a mistake (Richison).
The Father trims and prunes us to strip away all superficiality. The Father transforms us into what He wants us to be. We cannot sidestep the Father’s sovereignty.
Hag 2:19 Yet from this day on I will bless you.
Tomorrow is the first day of the rest of your lives.