Surviving the Belly of the Fish

6:45 PMHeather

For those of you who noticed, yes--I haven't posted on this blog since last Thursday. I actually started writing my Frugal Friday post, but got really distracted by a certain wedding. You know how last week I talked about slamming on the brakes? Well, I think my creative juices completely stalled out, and I decided that rather than try to fake it and post something anyway, I'd just wait till I had something to share that might be worth your time. To be honest, I'm not sure that I'm there yet...read on and decide for yourself.

After watching countless hours of royal wedding coverage from every imaginable angle to now endless news coverage about a certain successful military operation, you might not remember that last week, I posted about the study of Jonah that I just started. Just like Jonah, my life has been interrupted lately. For me, the belly of the big fish has been this annoying neck thing that is still restricting my daily function. Rest is not something this multi-tasker does readily--but it has been thrust upon me. Unfortunately, I have many friends in the belly of their own big fish. Illnesses, marital problems, difficult parenting issues, losses of loved ones....it's overwhelming to consider the weight of these burdens.

Maybe right now you, too, are in the belly of a big fish--in the middle of some life interruption that hit you square between your eyes. If so--now what? Allow me to offer you the answer to the burning question--how do you survive being in the belly of a big fish? For that answer, let's look to our big fish expert, Jonah, for three important tips for survival.

1.) Jonah 1:15 explains that the men on that boat set for Tarshish threw Jonah into the sea in hopes of calming the rough waters. And, then, we see this in verse 1:17: "Now the LORD provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights." You see, sometimes, when we are in the belly of some big fish, we see only a huge interruption. What we might not see is that the Lord provided it. This isn't always the case, of course. Sometimes, those interruptions we encounter are simply a result of living in a fallen world. But sometimes, God orchestrates our circumstances in a particular way because of His greater plan. Sometimes, we are in the middle of a storm, and God sends a big fish to swallow us up for our own protection.

2.) The second important bit of truth we can glean from Jonah 1:17 is found in the second half of this verse. Jonah was in the belly of that fish for three days and three nights. I can only imagine how long those three days and three nights must have felt. Of course, he didn't know how long he'd be there. It must have felt endless. But, it was only for a season. And, one thing I can promise you--regardless of the big fish that is swallowing you right now--it's only for a season. In the scheme of eternity--this interruption will last but for days.

3.) The third thing to remember is really the big KEY to surviving being the belly of the big fish. It's found in Jonah 2:1-2. There, in the middle of the muck and mire and darkness, Jonah shows us exactly what to do next.

From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the LORD his God.
2
He said: “In my distress I called to the LORD,
and he answered me.
From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help,
and you listened to my cry.

There you go. In the middle of your circumstance--from the depth of your pain and suffering, pray to the Lord YOUR God. Call to Him, and expect Him to answer. Call for help, and let Him listen to your cry. And, if that is ALL you can accomplish as your circumstance overwhelms you, just keep on praying, crying out, and calling to Him. You might not immediately be spewed from that fish's belly. Your circumstances might continue to swallow you for a season. But, the most important thing you can do for yourself during that season is to pray, cry out, and call to Him. Relief might not be instant. He might not answer your particular wants, but He is listening. Keep laying it all out before Him, and trust that He will hear you.

INTENTIONAL challenge: I know many of you are facing huge challenges that are swallowing up your lives. I wish I could change that for you. But, the one thing I can tell you with absolute certainty is that you can survive by calling on your God to see you through. In our distress, may our response always be to pray to the Lord. When we are in the belly of that big fish--to just cry out on the name of Jesus, again and again, until our feet hit dry land once again.

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