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The Fish Is Not The Point

Hiya! I bring us good news! The good news is that we are not alone in our frail, human state. The Bible is full of men and women who, despite their best efforts, suffer from a chronic lack of love and character. One of them is Jonah.

May you be inspired by this character I have come to find amusing too. Amen.

Sometimes We Are Jonah

Source: Bible Stories

Over the weekend, I studied the entire book of Jonah. And it brought an illumination to the truth that sometimes we are Jonah. We run, we are swallowed up, and we are spit out.

Sometimes, just like Jonah, when we have so many responsibilities thrust on our shoulders we feel that life is too much to handle. Who wouldn't want to book a cruise, get on a ship, and run away from all the wahala (trouble)?

Perhaps, we are more like Jonah than we even want to admit.

What generally comes to our minds when we hear about Jonah is that he refused to yield God's call to go to Nineveh, so he was swallowed by a big fish. But that is not all there is in the book. I picked out 5 "side attractions" about the character of Jonah during my study. Here we go.

1. Jonah knew who he was even in trouble

Source: G+

When the sea raged, and the travellers were scared for their lives. They casted a lot and discovered Jonah was the cause of their wahala (trouble). They now asked Jonah, "Oga, what is your business? Where have you come from? What is your country, and of what people are you?" (1:8). 

Even in his confusion and trouble he responds to the most crucial of the questions, the last one on identity, with admirable certainty, "I am a Hebrew. My God is the God of heaven and earth." Nice one, Jo!

We should always remember who we are and whose we are when we are broke, jobless, or in pain. We are Jonah when we respond with that kind of affirmation when our identity is being questioned/attacked.

Now stop reading. Take this moment to ask yourself: "Who am I? What are my fears? What am I running from? Where am I going?"

I hope your answers are lit. :D

2. Jonah maximized the moment he lived in the belly of the fish

See, some of us are currently inside the belly of the fish, some of us are about to be swallowed by the fish while some of us have just been spit out.

The belly of the fish is . . .
  • where you find yourself when God tells you to end a relationship and you end up in an emotional tangle that leaves you heartbroken and bitter. Sigh!
  • where you find yourself when God tells you not to pursue a particular course but you decide to pursue it anyway, because it “seems right” according to your understanding, only to be kicked out. Hmm!

The Belly of the fish — is a place of invisiblity — where God in His mercy prepares and positions us to get our attention to secure our eternal safety rather than meet our early comfort.

Jonah’s secret to finding clarity and gaining understanding about his call happened while in the belly of the fish. The three days experience gave him an opportunity to die to self, only to be raised in Christ. Inside the fish, Jonah composed a really good hymn of thanksgiving to God, and it seemed as though he had learned his lesson and gotten right with God.

He said,
"I cried by reason of mine affliction
unto the LORD,
and He heard me;
out of the belly of hell cried I,
and He heard my voice." (2:2)

Three days later the fish spit him up on dry land, and God told him once again to go to Nineveh to preach a message of judgment against it. This time Jonah went, and his mission was wildly successful. Everyone repented, from the king to the least, and God relented from sending disaster on the city.

What are you presently doing in the belly of the fish?

READ: Personality Bible Study: Rahab
3. Jonah had a real attitude problem

Jonah offered to die rather than see Nineveh spared (verse 3). He went to sit outside the city watching to see what would become of it. It's as if he was daring God to show them mercy after all the effort he (Jonah) had put in to see their hasty destruction. Too much drama. Lol.

Jonah never ceases to puzzle and entertain us. He is so real. Most prophets would rejoice at people repenting. Not Jonah oh. He became exceedingly displeased. What's even more amusing is that he accuses God of being too "gracious, merciful, slow to anger and abundant in loving-kindness". Who does that?! Lmho.

Ever put up an attitude simply because your "enemy" is making progress? We are sometimes like Jonah. We have issues.

If you are one of those people who make up their minds about something and find it difficult to change, you are like Jonah. This kind of attitude borders closely on pride. 

4. Jonah had chronic mood swings

Jonah's mood continues to go zigzig from the first chapter to the last chapter. Three times he says that he would "rather die than live" (4:3, 8, also see 4:9). He doesn't understand that the choice between life and death, satisfaction and dissatisfaction, atonement and forgiveness is in his hands -choices given to him by a gracious merciful God. Jonah has a long journey ahead of him: He has a lot yet to learn when the book ends. And so do we. Sometimes we are Jonah, complaining and afraid, dissatisfied and emotional.

Our emotions can often affect our judgement negatively. 

When God uses a worm to destroy the plant, see Jonah take yet another extreme mood swing, becoming angry (and probably depressed) to the point of desiring to die again (4:9). That guy ehn!

Are we any different tho.

5. Jonah is yet to answer God's question

Just when we started to enjoy this funny Jonah guy, the story ended right at the middle!

I'm perplexed. Why did the book of Jonah end so abruptly? Maka why?!? 

While we wait for Jonah to come and anwer us, for now, let us solely focus on God's central argument. God challenges Jonah and says: 
Look! You cared so deeply about a simple plant that you never earned or deserved. You are so deeply upset at its death. Should I, then, not be concerned for the fate of 120,000 humans and animals?

To be very honest, the book of Jonah ends off like an atomic bomb: "And animals?" "And animals?" Why are animals categorized with humans? I'm wondering whether the life of an animal is the same as the life of a human . . . or whether some humans are animals. 

Second, God's question,
"Shall I not spare Nineveh, that great city?
Unanswered. Jonah has not responded. The story ends. Done.

And because of this dysfunctional ending I find the inspiration to write this article to release some of the shock. Maybe these are questions we should be asking ourselves too.

See you when Jonah answers . . .


Ps. Hi Sweets. I know I've been lagging on the blogosphere. Bear with me. I'm chasing three "big" things at the same time. With God's help, I'm going to "catch" all the three of them before the year ends. And trust me to tell you all about them when the time comes. Hugs and kisses.

Article published in: October 2017
Article republished in: August 2018 

Written by Nwamaka Ajaegbu 
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Heart Rays . . . giving light.

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