When the prophet Jonah had a rebellious streak going against God, he ended up being thrown into a stormy ocean and straight into the gaping mouth of a huge fish. It must have been beyond disconcerting for Jonah to spend three days and three nights in such uncomfortable confines. It would have felt like the end of the world. To the observer, it was Jonah getting his just desserts. Why would anyone even have the temerity to question the will of God? Jonah must have known all along that he was always on the losing end of the bargain. It was far from being needless incarceration, however, because God intended Jonah to learn lessons in humility.
A Prayer is a Powerful Tool
When faced with a mind-numbing situation, Jonah turned to prayer. He was close to drowning amidst a churning maelstrom of an ocean. He knew he had somehow cheated death. God was telling him something important. He had to reach out to God, somehow. He reverted into his old self, prayerful self, and sent out messages of thanks and praise to God.
Repentance Repairs a Broken Relationship with God
Jonah had severed his link with God when he turned away from Him. He had acted willfully and on impulse. He had sinned against God. Jonah’s brush with death made him realize the extent of his wrongdoing. Deep in prayer, his heart was filled with remorse. He repented with all his might. God listened to Jonah and, without any precondition, accepted him back to the fold.
God is a God of Love Jonah called God a “gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love” (Jonah 4:2). It is a true and exact characterization of God. Jonah hit the mark this time around. Prayer and repentance are the way to God’s heart. Jonah found out how loving God can be.