Tonight, as I was reading to Adler before bed, from the best children's Bible I have read yet, "The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name," I learned a new lesson from the Jonah and the Whale story, even though I have heard this story a million times.
So Jonah had just jumped off the boat, and the storm stopped, and there he was, in the middle of the ocean, drowning. So God sends a huge whale to rescue him. Wait. Rescue him? I always thought that was his punishment, the whale I mean. I mean, who wants to sit in the pitchblack, slimy belly of the whale, amongst rotten fish and seaweed and whatever else is there in the belly of a whale? Surely it was his punishment for disobeying God and running from him.
But this story says this whale was sent to him to rescue him, to keep him from drowning. And He allowed that whale to keep Jonah in his belly for three days, enough time for Jonah to realize his sin and turn from it.
So what is the significance in the idea of the role of the whale from punishment to salvation really mean? Well, a lot really! God does things big, and He does them in unconventional ways. There are not too many people who, if drowning in the middle of the ocean, would see a whale and think, "Glory Be, this whale is going to rescue me!" And if swallowed by this whale, one would certainly not thing the outcome to be good! But sometimes, in our pain, when we think that nothing good can come from our situation, God is rescuing us in ways we do not see. In fact, the pain may be part of our rescue. And sometimes, when we are in the depths of despair, in our darkest hours, the wisdom that can come only from being broken, is what can change our lives, change our course, and make us more of what God intends us to be.
My pastor said last Sunday, "God is BIG." He is! He does things BIG; He shows His mercy in BIG ways (as in whale size!) He changes our lives in BIG ways.
PS- I am going to post one more quick little blog post about this bible mentioned, because it needs its own post!