“From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the LORD his God” (Jonah 2:1, NIV).
Jonah was on the run, not from some sort of enemy, but from God. He had been given a divine command to preach a message of repentance to the people of Ninevah, but instead, Jonah boarded a ship for Tarshish, about as far away from God as the sea would take him. A severe storm led Jonah’s boatmates to throw him overboard, and, if not for God’s provision of a hungry fish, Jonah would have certainly drowned. Now, Jonah would spend three days in the fish’s belly accompanied solely by his thoughts and, of course, God’s presence.
One might think that Jonah would spend his days of seclusion cursing God or, at the very least, his predicament. Jonah, however, used his divinely appointed “time out” to offer God praises. Jonah recognized his mistake in not listening to God and praised God for his rescue and provision.
If you’ve been a follower of Jesus for any amount of time, you’ve likely prayed, like Jonah, a belly of the fish prayer. These are the prayers we pray in the dark, lonely, smelly spaces in which we sometimes find ourselves. At times, the fish’s belly is a result of our own poor decisions. Other times, mere consequence lands us in this most desperate of situations.
Perhaps your cries to God have pierced through the dark nights of depression. Or maybe an addiction has placed you in dire straits. Illness, unemployment, and shattered relationships can also leave a person broken in the proverbial belly of the fish.
It’s important to remember that, in these and all situations, you are not alone. Jesus had his own belly of the fish moments. He prayed in the darkness of Gethsemane and from the cross at Calvary. Jesus has already been through, in some shape or form, what we experience in this life. Jesus even spent his own three days in the belly of a sealed tomb. Yet, he came out victorious.
Perhaps you are experiencing a belly of the fish moment right now. Know that God is with you. Call on him. He will answer. You will see the light of day again.