(April 22, 2020)

Jonah 1:1-2The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”

Read: Jonah 1

The Book of Jonah holds much. From our childhood, we might have heard the story of a big fish swallowing the prophet. Yet, consider this:

In Hebrew, “Jonah” means “dove.”

In Genesis, Noah entered a boat before a great storm due to the great sin of the world. While he was in the ark, Noah sent out a “jonah” to see if the waters had receded.

Now, the prophet Jonah enters a boat before a great storm due to the great sin of Nineveh. Here, a Jonah is cast out from the boat to see if the waters would calm.

Jonah is the son of “Amittai,” which means, “beloved.” So, the Dove, the son of the beloved, is given a clear message from God: “Go to the great city of Nineveh.” This can be passed over so easily, but it has long fascinated me that God actually converses with people: God spoketo Jonah. There is much power in a good word. Just consider Genesis 1.

Amazingly, Jonah receives the word to go to Nineveh and then immediately heads toward Tarshish. In today’s terms, imagine God told you to go to the Bahamas, and then you immediately boarded a plane for Seattle—it’s the polar opposite direction. Yet, Jonah the prophet did this deliberately. And at this point, the disorienting storm begins reorienting the boat, as both the reader and the people around the disobedient prophet in our text are full of questions. The people are not sure where to turn next. They just know their circumstances are bigger than them. “They each called out to their own god.”

* * *

Today, it feels like things with the virus are coming to some sort of “turn.” The boredom has increased. The loneliness has deepened. The financial picture just changed. We watch the news and it seems the government should start loosening things soon. A little. We think.

And we wonder: how is this whole thing is going to play out?

It is hard to sit still when your boat is tossing you about, but God sees you. He knows what you are going through. Our uncertainty is certain to Him.

And He still speaks. His message, at its core, is: “I am with you.” That biblical symbol of the Holy Spirit, the Dove, is right there with you. So go ahead and ask Him all your questions. The confusion of the moment will only help you see the power of the truth more fully later: The destination of this confusing journey leads deeper into the heart of God. And you will know that your life is defined not by fear or uncertainty but in the fact that you are a Child of the Beloved.