1Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the belly of the fish, 2saying,
"I called out to the LORD, out of my distress,
and he answered me;
out of the belly of Sheol I cried,
and you heard my voice.
3 For you cast me into the deep,
into the heart of the seas,
and the flood surrounded me;
all your waves and your billows
passed over me.
4 Then I said, 'I am driven away
from your sight;
yet I shall again look
upon your holy temple.'
5 The waters closed in over me to take my life;
the deep surrounded me;
weeds were wrapped about my head
6at the roots of the mountains.
I went down to the land
whose bars closed upon me forever;
yet you brought up my life from the pit,
O LORD my God.
7When my life was fainting away,
I remembered the LORD,
and my prayer came to you,
into your holy temple.
8 Those who pay regard to vain idols
forsake their hope of steadfast love.
9 But I with the voice of thanksgiving
will sacrifice to you;
what I have vowed I will pay.
Salvation belongs to the LORD!"
10And the LORD spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land.
"Our stories aren't as unique as we think they are" - paraphrase from Jeremy Duncan
In this prayer, I believe Jonah quotes psalmists 14 or so times... an interesting concept. While finding himself in a situation that no one -likely up to that point or since that point- has really found themselves in, Jonah chose not to use his own words to call out to God, but those of people who had gone before him.
Jonah, it would seem -amongst his many flaws-, figured that no matter how crazy the situation he found himself in, there were people who had "been there" before... people who had gone through the ringer and come out the other side and voiced the same concerns/hopes that he found himself dealing with.
How often do we think of the situations that happen in our life as "our own"? I know, for myself, that I have often thought "there is certainly NO ONE who could POSSIBLY understand what I am going through right now"... it almost seems foolish, if not very proud... or both.
The reality of life is that there are people who are struggling with the things that we are... whether it be a different shade, or the unlikely event that someone is literally experiencing the same situation.
Rest assured, friends, that the prayers we pray have been prayed before... and answered! Quite probably different answers have been given to different people, but answered nonetheless.
Now how does this weave into our lives through our ministry? We are called to preach the gospel to the world... in it's entirety. Christians and non-Christians alike need to hear the good news... but what does this look like?
We live in a world where being "unique" is perhaps one of our biggest desires. The church today seems to be pushing in a direction where we believe that the world we live in is completely different than it ever has been. The sins (though we're unlikely to use that word) we struggle with are totally different than those that our forefathers dealt with.
"People don't respond to the same things that they once did"
A sentiment I often see in people is that we have somehow "outgrown" the sermons/truths of old. Hell? Punishment? Depravity? SIN? Those words don't change people... they don't bring about true repentance! (another word we don't often hear)
We must LOVE people into the kingdom... not scare them.
Now... I would agree that scaring people into anything is probably not the way I would choose to lead someone... but I would also say that people often disagree on what the word "love" means.
Is loving someone letting them live in the struggles they find themselves in? Is it seeing someone making SINful choices and not saying anything for fear of offending them?
Don't get me wrong... I'm not advocating blind judgment on people based off of limited experiences we see of them... but what I AM wondering about lately... is how we relate to people keeping in mind that the people we are "preaching" to are, in essence, the same types of people that once responded to turn or burn sermons.
Now is that ALL there is to the gospel? Certainly not...
But it's part of it, no?
Hell IS a reality, I believe... and one that people should certainly be aware of.
How that looks, I'm not totally sure... most of this is just ponderings of someone who had too much caffeine on a Sunday night... but I would love to see the discussion brought forth with maturity and love amongst Christians today.
I think it would be a cool conversation to have in the community we find ourselves in. I think it would be exciting to see how a community could respond to a good ol' fashioned hell/sin service.