Up from the Pit

From Lynda Lindsey 

Jonah praying from inside the fish: You hurled me into the deep, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me; all Your waves and breakers swept over me. I said, ‘I have been banished from Your sight; yet I will look again toward Your holy temple.’ The engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head. To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever. But You brought my life up from the pit, O Lord my God. Jonah 2:3-6

The word of the Lord came to Jonah. Go. But Jonah ran, booked passage on a ship, and fled from God. An ensuing violent storm arose, resulting in Jonah’s being thrown overboard to keep the ship from sinking. God provided a great fish to swallow Jonah; Jonah spent three days and three nights inside the fish, praying and thanking God for saving him from certain death in the sea. Then at the Lord’s command the fish vomited Jonah onto dry land.

Jonah’s prayer is rich in imagery. Jonah is being swirled in the currents, waves and breakers are sweeping over him; seaweed is wrapped in a stranglehold around his head. Jonah, engulfed by threatening waters, is sinking to the depths of the sea in a watery grave so deep that the mountains are rooted there. His life ebbing away, Jonah cried out to God. God, Jonah remembered, brought Jonah’s life up from the pit. Jonah sings a song of thanksgiving from inside the belly of the great fish: salvation comes from the Lord God. Jonah’s troubles resulted from disobedience, but it’s important to note that not all trials are linked to disobeying God.

Jonah was running away from God’s commission. Pastor Andrew Brunson in Turkey was, and still is, obediently serving God. Nevertheless Pastor Brunson is in the depths of a violent raging sea. The engulfing waters of false accusations are swirling around his head, his life and health are in jeopardy, his case a parody of justice by his accusers. Yet Pastor Brunson, usually reserved, chooses to sing and dance every night in a hymn of praise and thanksgiving to God as a public witness of God’s love and mercy. Pastor Brunson prays to be faithful to the Lord God to the end; he urges his family and the Church to stand before God as faithful witnesses. Andrew Brunson, by his words and actions, demonstrates the truth that God our Lord brings us up out of the pit. When the word of the Lord says, “Go,” may we obey with the obedient faith of Pastor Brunson. Lord Jesus, make us worthy to serve you.