A blinding flash fills the sky, followed a crack of booming thunder that seems to shake the whole house. The wind howls like an other-worldly being, tossing about trash cans and patio furniture, as the rain lashes against the window in a relentless onslaught. Even in a snug house, a severe storm can be a frightening experience.
Imagine then, how terrifying to experience a violent storm while stuck in a sailboat in the middle of the sea. Water is everywhere as the waves threaten to overtake the ship and the rain comes from all directions. The wind, normally an ally, seems bent on destruction instead.
The experienced sailors heading to Tarshish with Jonah would have been through a storm or two. If these trusty mariners were afraid, it must have been quite the tempest. While they are panicking and tossing precious cargo overboard, Jonah is in the ship’s hold, blissfully asleep. The outraged captain insists Jonah join the rest of the crew as they try to solve the crisis.
While it seems inconceivable that anyone would be able to sleep through such a powerful storm, for Jonah, it’s just part of his M.O. Jonah is the king of avoidance tactics, doing anything in his power to escape any possible discomfort. Don’t want to face preaching repentance to a wicked city? Sail in the opposite direction. Don’t want to face a life-threatening storm? Sleep through it.
Sound at all familiar? None of us like to feel pain. But often God uses the very thing that is causing us discomfort to show us more of who He is and how He wants us to relate to Him. Sometimes He allows the storm to hit because it will drive us into His arms.
One could argue that Jonah’s request to be thrown into the sea is the ultimate avoidance tactic. Rather than cry out to God for forgiveness and ask Him to calm the storm, Jonah chooses certain death.
But in His mercy, God is not finished with Jonah. He still has a purpose for him, so He orchestrates a miraculous (and messy) rescue. Our heavenly Father is bigger and stronger than any avoidance tactic we can attempt. His plan ALWAYS prevails.
How is the storm in Jonah 1 similar to the one in Luke 8? How is it different? How do the various characters in each story respond?
How has God used a storm in your life to show you something about who He is and how He wants you to relate to Him?
Is there something painful or uncomfortable in your life now that you’ve been trying to avoid? Invite God into that situation and ask Him to help you trust Him with it.