The prophet Jonah willfully disobeyed God because he felt inadequate to fulfill the mission assigned to him. His punishment was to be thrown into the sea in the middle of a violent storm. He would have died from drowning right there and then. Instead, God sent a huge fish that swallowed him whole. The fish did not let go of him for three days and three nights. If you were Jonah, what thoughts would run through your mind while trapped in the foul-smelling darkness of the fish belly?
The first thought could be it is the end. He had turned his back on God. He tried to be as devious in his escape plans as he could be but still, God found him. He will be punished and rightfully so. He does not expect to come out of the big fish alive.
Jonah’s second thought could be that it is all his fault. He did not trust God enough. He was afraid that his mission to deliver God’s message of destruction to Nineveh will end in his ruin. He could not have hoped to escape God who knows and sees all things.
Jonah, like any other human being, will have looked around to assess if there was hope in his predicament. He is not dead yet therefore there is a chance that he will continue to live. Can he survive long enough inside the fish without food and water?
Is it worth asking for God’s mercy? Jonah has previously relied on his merciful God. Surely God will find it in His heart to forgive him. He acknowledges his sin and his sinful nature. It is all up to God now.
Finally, he bows his head down in supplication. If there is nothing more to be done inside the belly of the fish, he might as well pray. When in the dark, the only way to see light is through prayer.
At the end of the third day, God directed the fish to release Jonah onto dry land.