Peace Regardless of the Storm
We find these words in Jonah 1:4-6.
But the LORD hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship threatened to break up. Then the mariners were afraid, and each cried out to his god. And they hurled the cargo that was in the ship into the sea to lighten it for them. But Jonah had gone down into the inner part of the ship and had lain down and was fast asleep. So the captain came and said to him, “What do you mean, you sleeper? Arise, call out to your god! Perhaps the god will give a thought to us, that we may not perish.”
Last month we considered Jonah 1:1-3 and how God commissioned Jonah to go to Nineveh and how Jonah fled from God’s presence. This month we will consider God’s response to Jonah’s fleeing. Jonah fled to Joppa and caught a ship going to Tarshish to get away from the presence of the LORD and then we find the words in the text above, “But the LORD. . .” Jonah attempted to flee the presence of the LORD, but the LORD had other plans. Jonah had one set of plans, but God clearly had other plans in mind. The LORD hurled a great wind upon the sea and there was a mighty tempest on the sea.
Two points for consideration:
First, who brought the great wind that stirred the sea into a mighty tempest? The LORD. It was not chance. It was not bad luck. It was not “mother nature.” It was not misfortune. The LORD, God, purposefully called the wind and sea into his service. He brought about a great storm. So great that the ship threatened to break up. Do you see the LORD’s sovereignty over his creation? Do you see that even the wind and sea are at his beck and call to serve his purposes and to bring
about his desired ends?
Second, what mighty tempest are you battling? You would do well to consider that God might have “hurled a great wind upon your life” because you are attempting to flee from the presence of God. I do not mean to suggest that every trial, every struggle, is a result of fleeing from God or disobeying God, but I do mean to clearly say that each of you should at least ask the question. If God has hurled a wind upon your life that has resulted in a mighty tempest of such magnitude that life is about to break up, could it be because you have fled from God in disobedience?
Let us continue on to verses 5 and 6. Notice that the tempest is of such magnitude that not only is the ship threatening to break up but the mariners, seasoned men of the sea, men who would have seen and lived through many storms, were afraid. So, this storm is no ordinary storm. They were afraid and each cried out to his own god. They hurled cargo off the ship into the sea to lighten it. But where is Jonah? He had gone down into the inner part of the ship and had lain down and was fast asleep. The captain wakes Jonah up and demands that he call out to his god. “Perhaps the god will give a thought to us, that we may not perish.”
I would like to suggest two points for consideration from these two verses.
First, we see here pagans responding in fear. Men who knew what it was to sail through storms when faced with seas like this resort to anything they can think of that might help save them. Their first response was to cry out each one to his own god (sending up SOS flares if you will), hoping that maybe, perhaps, one of them will hear and come to their aid. They also begin to throw cargo overboard, a common practice of the day in such situations to increase the likelihood of the ship staying afloat. Finally, the captain finds Jonah asleep and wakes him so he can cry out to his god in hopes that his god will come to their aid since none of the other gods seem to be available to help.
Friends, you see here that when faced with trials of this magnitude, people will grasp for help anywhere they think they might be able to find it, but false religion is no solution. How many people turn to their own gods when trials come? They turn to money. They turn to sex. They turn to drugs. They turn to food. They turn to entertainment. When none of their own gods help, they turn to the conventional wisdom of the day for help. In our day, it would be psychology and psychotropic meds. When that does not help, they will even try the gods of others for help.
Friends, when your ship is threatening to break up and the storm you are in is frightening, to whom or what do you cry out? Surrogate saviors will be of no true assistance and the wisdom of man will fail.
One other thought. Notice that Jonah is the inner part of the ship asleep while the others are crying out to their gods and
throwing cargo overboard. The storm is raging on his account and yet, he seems to be at peace, so much so that he can sleep soundly in the ship. Do not think that just because you are “at peace” with a situation that everything is okay between you and the LORD. Your feelings lie. The issue you must consider is, have you obeyed the LORD in your situation? If so, then you should be at peace regardless of the storm.
Where are you in these verses?
By His Grace Alone,