IN A BAD PLACE
In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me. From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help, and you listened to my cry.
Pitcairn Island is one of the remotest, hardest-to-reach places on the globe. It is a tiny island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, just south of the Tropic of Capricorn. It is home to about forty-six people. Getting there would take weeks — even with modern transportation. First you’d fly to Tahiti, which is 4,200 miles away. Then you’d take a boat for about 1,200 miles. But since the island has no natural harbor, only a ring of rugged volcanic cliffs that jut out of the ocean, you’d have to transfer to a rubber dinghy, take your climbing gear, and scale the 900-foot rock cliffs that face the sea.
Yes, Pitcairn Island is about as far as a person can go to get away from it all and still actually be on earth. But this is what the story of Jonah teaches us — that God can be present with Jonah, even in the belly of a whale.
Jonah ran from God, directly disobeying God’s specific instructions to go to Nineveh. He was filled with disgust and loathing for the very people to whom God told him to preach. Jonah was not in a good place.
If God were like us, you’d expect him to get royally ticked off. Thankfully, God is not like us. God deals with Jonah with grace, kindness, and mercy.
Jonah’s story is our story. We have all run from God. And we’ve ended up in some pretty bad places. But God sees. God hears. God knows. God helps us and forgives us.
No matter where we are. ♦
Lord, this is where I am …