Freedom In The Fish
I’m sure you’ve probably heard the story of Jonah. You can picture that big fish with his mouth wide open and Jonah sitting in the belly. But would you believe that Jonah’s lesson can bring encouragement to someone in jail?
I had seen Judy almost weekly for the last few months. She had shared details of her life: her anger with God after a divorce, her sister’s cancer, and her older son’s struggle with addiction and entering treatment. An addict herself, she had been in jail for many months and now she was battling high blood pressure. Today she was sharing that she really didn’t know how long she could keep going. She was feeling very discouraged, helpless, and trapped. So, I decided to share the story of Jonah.
I reviewed the story a bit and took her to Jonah’s frustrated heart and his vain attempt to run away from God which eventually led to his being thrown overboard during a raging storm.
Instead of allowing Jonah to perish in the storm, however, God chose to save him. Most people wouldn’t think that being swallowed by a fish would be a gift from God, but that’s exactly what it was. During those three dark, smelly days in the fish, God was reaching out to Jonah. Trapped inside of the fish, Jonah realized that God had used the fish to rescue him.
As Judy thought about the story of Jonah, she began to ponder a possible connection to her own situation. Was God using the belly of this jail to save her? If Judy was still on the streets, she would likely be deep in her addiction, hurting herself and her family more and possibly even dead.
We talked about the story some more and God’s deliverance of Jonah, eventually being spit out on the beach. Then, we thanked God for rescuing Judy and prayed that he would provide a similar deliverance for her according to his good and perfect will for her life.
While we can’t always make sense of things on God’s behalf, we can point people to Jesus. We can offer people the assurance that they can come as they are, with whatever emotion, into the understanding, patient arms of God. We can pray with and for them. We can assure them that things that look like fish, may be freedom!
Chaplain Sarah Guenther