Some bible stories are hard for modern people to wrap our minds around. For example, the bible says Jonah was swallowed by a great fish and then three days later he was spit out on dry land.
But the fish has nothing to do with our problem with the Jonah story.
If God really is God; if God created the universe out of nothing; maneuvering one fish to swallow a runaway prophet is no big deal.
Our real problem with the Jonah story is that we don’t think it applies to us. Our real problem is that we fail to see ourselves as Jonah.
When we read Jonah, it’s easy to see his problem. He’s self-righteous. He can’t find any good reason for what God is calling him to do, so he must be right, and God must be wrong. He can’t see that God might actually know better than he does what’s best for him.
Self-righteousness is the reason we don’t think the Jonah story applies to us. Self-righteousness is what keeps us from seeing ourselves as God sees us. Self-righteousness is why we won’t listen to our spouse, our friends, or our pastors. We think we know better than them too, so we take offense. We run the other way.
But if God is offended by our self-righteousness, he has a funny way of showing it. In Jonah’s case, God sent a ship with a pagan crew, a storm, and a fish to get Jonah to see God’s better way.
I wonder if God could be using the storms that come into our lives in the same way.
Instead of imagining what it might be like to be swallowed by a fish, perhaps we could imagine why God would have to go to such great lengths to get our attention.