7.15.14 “Thanksgiving before Outcome”

The Scripture for today is Jonah 2

Jonah Prays to the Lord

2 From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God. 2 He said, “When I was in trouble, I called out to you.  And you answered me. When I had almost drowned, I called out for help. And you listened to my cry. 3 You threw me into the Mediterranean Sea. I was in the middle of its waters. They were all around me. All of your rolling waves were sweeping over me. 4 I said, ‘I have been driven away from you. But I will look again toward your holy temple in Jerusalem.5 I had almost drowned in the waves. The deep waters were all around me. Seaweed was wrapped around my head. 6 I sank down to the bottom of the mountains.  I thought I had died and gone down into the grave forever.  But you brought my life up from the very edge of the pit. You are the Lord my God. 7 “When my life was nearly over, I remembered you, Lord. My prayer rose up to you. It reached you in your holy temple in heaven.8 “Some people worship the worthless statues of their gods. They turn away from the grace you want to give them.9 But I will sacrifice a thank offering to you.  And I will sing a song of thanks.I will do what I have promised. Lord, you are the one who saves.” 10 The Lord gave the fish a command. And it spit Jonah up onto dry land.

What first grabs my attention in this scripture reading is how Jonah was giving thanks to God as if God had already saved him from the belly of the whale.  It’s hard to give thanks and have a heart of gratitude when you are still in the midst of a trial, when the fear still surrounds you, or when you have lost hope.  But Jonah is thanking God for sparing his life, even though his life would seem hopeless while inside the whale.  Jonah didn’t need an outcome to his  current circumstance of being in the whale’s belly before realizing there was plenty to be thankful for in spite of his circumstance.  I generally need a solution to my issue (my fear, my struggle, my pain) before my attitude changes from despair to thanksgiving.  I want to follow Jonah’s example of praising and giving thanks before God reveals how He will save.  This is the kind of faith I would like to have.

Secondly, I love the way Jonah is stating all that God has saved him from, as if reminding himself of how bad it could have been, and how generous God was.  In his prayer he confesses his fear, then thanks God for the specific way He answered his prayer and saved him.  This is a great model for me, because I can get wordy and general in my prayers.  It would mean so much more to me and to God, I believe, if I would be specific about what I’m struggling with and then give thanks “specifically” for how God comes through for me.  This would be a faith builder and good discipline for me because it would create an even greater heart of praise and thanksgiving for God’s goodness.

Thirdly, I love that Jonah doesn’t just pray, he doesn’t just give thanks, he doesn’t just have faith that God will take care of him...but he praises God too.  He praises God for His grace, he wants to sacrifice a thank offering and sing a song of thanks to God, he praises God for being the One who saves!  

This must have been such a sweet aroma to God’s heart - knowing that even in the midst of His discipline, Jonah loved Him, was committed, and was thankful.  God always knows what I need, what I don’t need, how I need to be disciplined, how I need to be loved, and He knows in advance how He’s going to save me from my challenges.  So trusting Him, giving Him thanks, praising Him, and praying in a way that increases my faith - is a beautiful goal for me!  I’m so “thankful” for what God taught me through Jonah’s prayer.

How about you?  Could you relate to Jonah’s prayer today?