What can we do when we are in the depths?
Goodness, I fight against God constantly. I give Him the silent treatment, and He knows it. When I am ignoring God, I am doing it blatantly.
I wanted to be done with Jonah, but I didn’t feel right about it. I actually tried to move on to another subject, but it was trash; it didn’t work, but God chased me down and brought me back.
Being a single parent is hard. There are probably more harder times than easy ones for many of us. Many women become hopeless… Today I spoke to another single mom who was recently at the brink of giving up. She said that people just didn’t understand. They want to brush it off and pretend like it’s an easy fix but if you’ve been to that rock bottom, you know it’s hopeless. It feels like you can and should just simply stop breathing. That breathing is the only thing keeping you alive so you might as well just stop since you’re not really living anyways. Most people around me don’t know this, but I was at that point about a month ago. Living with constant change and uncertainty, going days and weeks without adult interaction, feeling the desire to have someone to depend on and make decisions with, but there is no one consistently there. But there can also physical and mental challenges that go along with this. Legitimate problems that require medication and the guilt that can manifest with it is sometimes worse than the medical issue.
When God brought me back to Jonah, I wondered why. I said, “But I’m not in distress anymore.” He said, “But you were not too long ago.” I asked, “Well, why don’t I write about this topic when I’m in the depths rather than afterwards?” He said, “Because I answered you and pulled you out of it. Jonah didn’t record his story until after the story was over. That’s what you are doing, too. This is to remind others that there is hope on the other side of the depths.”
If you haven’t noticed by now, many of my prayers are just a rewording of prayers in the Bible. I have been taught to “tell God what He has already told you in His word.” He knows what He said, but I want Him to know that I know His words and His promises. I don’t need to come up with something fancy, and these prayers end up way deeper than I ever come up with. So we are going to pray Jonah’s prayer together:
Note: The sections that are tabbed over are from Jonah 2. The part that is in italics will be our prayer. Feel free to replace the words in brackets with your own prayers.
Jonah cried out to God from inside the fish: “In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me. From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help, and you listened to my cry. You hurled me into the depths, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me. (Jonah 2:2-3)
Prayer: In my distress, I cried out to the Lord and He answered me. From [my living room] I am calling for help because You listen to my cry. You have taken away [everything I thought I was, and You’ve slammed every door in my face. You have disciplined me to the point that I have had to surrender].
He continues: “I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple. The engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head. To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever. (Jonah 2:4-6a)
Prayer: I have been banished from your sight. I haven’t heard from You in months. I have run away from You for so long that [I forgot Your voice], yet at this moment I turn back to You. My problems are surmounting; I am struggling in every area in my life, and it’s consuming me. I bow down and give the struggle to You. My problems are like mountains, and I am trapped.
(Prayer continued) But you, Lord my God, brought my life up from the pit. “When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, Lord, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple. “Those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God’s love for them. But I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.’ (Jonah 2:6b-9, NIV)
As you can see, Jonah’s prayer is desperate but honest. He didn’t sink into the depths and say, “Well I deserve this, I didn’t even listen to God even though I knew what He wanted from me. I’m just going to lay down and die here.” Jonah told God what he knew about Him. He told God that He is the one who saves. He reminded God of what He has already done and Jonah promised to turn back to God and obey Him finally. He was to his breaking point and he had no other option but that is where God could work.
All God is asking us to do in that pit of despair is to acknowledge and trust Him. He takes us to the brink but asks us only to surrender. He wants to save us and sometimes things have to get really bad for us to let go of control. Let go!! Let go of pride. Let go of control. Turn back to Him and let Him do what He has been wanting to do the whole time.
And take baby steps. Do the first step he has laid out. Don’t think about where the next step will be or where the 10th step will lead to. Don’t let your fears of what He might ask next stop you from taking the first step.
That’s the battle. Shutting off the fears and thoughts of the future. But once you take the step forward then God can do what He does…
And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land. (Jonah 2:10, NIV)