There’s just nothing like those seasons when you feel like you’re living in tight quarters, with the pressures of life bearing down on you from all sides. It’s a bittersweet experience because pressure has a way of revealing your true self while also showing you the true nature of God if you can press through and trust Him instead of resorting to old ways of coping. You are probably familiar with the story of Jonah, the Old Testament prophet who was commissioned by the Lord to travel to Nineveh and preach against their sin. But did you realize that it was praise under pressure that set Jonah free?
Jonah often gets a bad rap from his story because even knowing clearly what God’s will was, he went in the opposite direction! But before we judge Jonah too harshly, remember that these Bible accounts are in the Word of God to teach us about ourselves! Yet, even though Jonah rebelled and intentionally went in the opposite direction of God’s will and even though he had to experience the natural consequences of his actions, as we all do at times, the Lord never stopped being faithful, merciful and good to him.
Jonah’s Path to Freedom was Praise
One of the most powerful and eye-opening things you should always remember about Jonah’s story is this: He worshipped the Lord in the midst of his misery, from within the belly of the great fish that had swallowed him and that is what set him free.
In fact, in Jonah chapter 2, Jonah recounts his story in the form of a worship song saying this:
“I called to the Lord out of my distress, and He answered me. Out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and You heard my voice. You cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the flood surrounded me. All Your billows and Your waves passed over me…. When my life was ebbing away, I remembered the Lord; and my prayer came to You, into Your holy temple… I will sacrifice to You with the voice of thanksgiving…”
Then, immediately following Jonah’s time of worship this happened: “Then the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out upon dry land.” (Jonah 2:10)
And just like that, the pain, the turmoil, the consequences, the desperation, the humiliation, the frustrations were over and done with. The Lord came down when worship went up! Here one important thing I want you to remember going forward, from the life of Jonah- a rebellious man who humbled himself before God and worshipped in the worst possible conditions: If you can minister to the Lord while you’re still in the “whale”, you’re going to ultimately win the war. Worship does win wars, but the victory will come from within you before you see it outside of you.
Thought for today: Your Praise is Proof of Your Trust in God
So many times we miss the victory in our battles because we expect to see it unfold in a certain way around us, don’t we? Just like Jonah, when we don’t see what thought we’d see, we get sour and argue with God. When, really, most of the battles we face are waged within our own hearts. When life goes horribly wrong, we battle against the flesh and against our “natural” responses instead of responding in a spiritual manner. Yet, in all of the mess Jonah had made of things, he still worshipped the Lord and offered up a sacrifice of praise. Why? Because worship is about GOD and is not about us.
Here is some advice the Holy Spirit has brought into my own spirit:
“The darker the days, the higher the praise!”
Praise and worship are not about how we feel or what we’re going through or about where we are in life. So what did Jonah “sacrifice” if he had nothing to bring under Old Testament law? He sacrificed himself – which is the essence of true worship. Forget your mess. Even if you’re in a “whale” season, WORSHIP. People who have a heart devoted to the Lord know this powerful secret: God is no less worthy of praise on a bad day as He is on a good day!
In a “Belly of the Fish” Season? Encourage Your Spirit to Praise the Lord!
- “Praise Goes Before and After the Promise”
- “Surviving the Fiery Furnace”
- “Freedom Belongs to You- But You Must Choose to Accept it”