The struggle of faith: Reflecting on the book of Jonah
February 11, 2018
We’re going to be doing something different this morning: We going to be reading and
reflecting on the book of Jonah together. Anyone know where the book of Jonah is? It’s among
the minor prophets at the end of the Old Testament. In your red pew Bibles, you’ll find it on
pages 752 and 753. It’s a short book; easy to miss.
Most of us know the basics of this story: Jonah didn’t follow God’s instructions and
ended up in the belly of a whale. That part of the story that has made it into our popular culture.
For that reason, perhaps, along with the gritty humanness that is part and parcel of many Old
Testament passages, this story merits a deeper look.
It is a story of struggling with faith. That’s something that most of us can identify with.
This story helps us think about what that struggle looks like. We see ourselves revealed and we
also learn more about the character of God.
So here’s how things are going to go: Peggy Owen will be our reader. Peggy will read
and then we will share with each other what comes to mind as we think about this. We will do
this in four “acts,” which are the four chapters. As we do this don’t worry about whether or not
these things could actually have happened. Instead, take the story at its word. Think about how
this story relates to your life as a God-follower. How does this ancient story reflect, or not
reflect, your own relationship with God?
Act 1: Jonah runs away from God and ends up in the belly of a big fish
Call, fleeing from the call, making a conscious choice to go the other way, disquiet.
Act 2: Jonah in the belly of the big fish, taking stock.
As my life was ebbing away, I remembered the Lord.
Act 3: Jonah obeys the second call, the people of Nineveh respond and repent.
Act 4: Jonah feels disrespected and hurt.
Self more important than anything else. Link between egotism and suffering.
God’s mercy “unfair.”
It is important to remember that even if we struggle with what it means to have faith and
be faithful, for God this is never a problem. God is faithful. God is merciful and just. And that
is true even when those adjectives don’t describe us. As we end this time of reflection, listen
again to the words from Psalm 62 and hold them in your heart:
:For God alone my soul waits in silence, for my hope is from him. 6 He alone is my rock
and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. 7 On God rests my deliverance and my
honor; my mighty rock, my refuge is in God. 8 Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your
heart before him; God is a refuge for us.” Amen.