Lord, when we go through tribulation’s darkness, assure us that You are with us. Amen.
Text: Jonah 2:1–9
Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the fish’s belly. And he said: “I cried out to the Lord because of my affliction, and He answered me. Out of the belly of Sheol1 I cried, and You heard my voice. For You cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the floods surrounded me; all Your billows and Your waves passed over me. Then I said, ‘I have been cast out of Your sight; yet I will look again toward Your holy temple.’ The waters encompassed me, even to my soul; the deep closed around me; weeds were wrapped around my head. I went down to the moorings of the mountains; the earth with its bars closed behind me forever; yet You have brought up my life from the pit, O Lord, my God. When my soul fainted within me, I remembered the Lord; and my prayer went up to You, into Your holy temple. Those who regard worthless idols forsake their own Mercy. But I will sacrifice to You with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay what I have vowed. Salvation is of the Lord.”
What Jonah prays here from the deep, Jesus experiences in the agony of His suffering and death. He had anguish and cried out from the belly of hell’s torments. He was cast into the deep, into the midst of the sea. The floods surrounded Him, and all the waves of God’s wrath passed over Him. He felt cast out from God’s sight and completely forsaken by Him, yet He kept looking to His holy temple and in faith held on to the promise of salvation. The waters surrounded His soul, the deep closed in around Him, there were weeds wrapped around His head. He sank down to the base of the mountains, and earth’s store was locked to Him eternally. He had sunk down in shame and despising, the accursed thorns wrapped about His head held Him fast, and all the powers of hell closed Him off, yes, the huge store of God’s wrath, so that He should never get out the door again. But His faith saved Him. He didn’t let go of the Word, and His prayer penetrated all the iron doors into heaven. “You have brought up My life from the pit, O Lord, My God.”
But you, dear Christian soul, shall travel the same path to reach the gates of thanksgiving and salvation. Yet with a great difference. Jesus had no one to save Him; He was alone. “He looked, but there was no one to help, and I wondered that there was no one to uphold” (Isa 63:5). But you are not alone; He is with you. If you think that you are alone in the deep, still He is with you. Cry out to the Lord. Your poor voice reaches His ear; your prayer comes to Him in His holy temple – and He “brings up your life from the pit.” You are saved.
Yes, You know best, Lord Jesus, what my soul suffers. I have sinned against the Lord, so I will bear His wrath, until He leads me to the light again. Calm me, patient Savior. Let Your mind be in me. God, hear my cry in Your holy temple. O but many snares lie around me. Many traps block the way before me; I see no escape. Lord, is this the way You will lead me, through greater anguish and terror? Still, You are my Savior. You cannot let me go, and I cannot let You go! Amen.
Most heartily I trust in Thee;
Thy mercy fails me never.
Dear Lord, abide; My helper tried,
From evil keep me ever.
Now henceforth must I put my trust
In Thee, O dearest Savior.
Thy comfort choice, Thy word and voice,
My heart rejoice
Despite my ill behavior.
When sorrows rise, My refuge lies
In Thy compassion tender.
Within Thine arm Can naught alarm;
Keep me from harm,
Be Thou my strong defender.
Sthen: Lord Jesus Christ, my Savior blest L 80:3-5 ELH 258:3-5 tr. H. R. K. Spaeth;
tune: Herre Jesu Krist