But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the Lord.
Jonah prayed these words from the belly of the whale. In the guts of a fish, after he had finally made the decision to follow God’s instruction, he gave thanksgiving. In the middle of the impossible. In the mess he’d gotten himself into he realized that God had heard his prayers and was working to save him.
That’s where I feel like I am right now. I feel like I am in the middle of the impossible. Like Jonah, I am looking around at the mess around me, and thinking “How did I get here?! Is this really happening? How did my life turn into this? God, I took that step of obedience and leapt from the boat, now what?”
What is interesting about the prayer that Jonah prayed is that he states that he will make his vows good. He admits that he knows that God will give him a chance to complete what he vowed to do. He knows that even though he’s in the belly of a fish, that it looks completely impossible with his human eyes, that God will get him out.
My circumstances look impossible. My situation doesn’t look good in human eyes. I’m in the belly of the fish, with the waste of my decisions laying around me. I have no clue how God is going to fix this problem for me. No idea what he is doing. All I know is what he has asked me to do and that he will bring me out of this.
What I have vowed I will make good.
Yes, I will. Those vows I said in front of God, I will make good to those vows.
I think it’s funny that Jonah says “I will sacrifice to you”. Don’t we owe God our lives? Is confronting someone with a message really a sacrifice to God? In human terms, yes, of course it is! But really, to our GOD, is the fact that we are being obedient to him actually a sacrifice? Shouldn’t that just be a ‘given’? He’s our GOD.
I have given up my single life for God. I have broken up with a man that adored me for God. I have moved back to my small home-town for God. I have given up on the best paying job I have ever had for God. When I moved back to my home-town I gave up on spending frequent time with my niece and two of my sisters for God. I have given up control of my life for God.
But is that sacrifice, when really I owe everything I have to God?
We are so blessed to have a beautiful, generous and loving God. A God that appreciates our sacrifices, he sees what we are giving up for him and has compassion. And he will reward us. His reward may be the restoration of my marriage, it may be a deep and personal relationship with him, it may be an unseen reward in heaven…it may be all of these things. Your sacrifices are rewarding, God doesn’t ask us to give things up just to make our lives hard. He knows that, ultimately, asking us to sacrifice something will bring us closer to him, and there is nothing more rewarding than that.
Maybe Jonah’s prayer is to show us how to pray.
“But I, with a song of thanksgiving…” Give thanks to God even when you’re in the middle of the impossible.
“Will sacrifice to you…” Sacrifice for God even when you don’t want to.
“What I have vowed, I will make good…” Keep moving forward in your obedience. Make good with your vows.
“Salvations comes from the Lord…” Have faith that salvation will come.
And then the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.
Jonah finished his prayer, his song in the belly of a whale, and God saved him. Jonah acted in obedience even when it meant putting himself in the middle of an impossible situation, and God came through and rescued him. He uttered the words of obedience and God created a pathway for him. He committed to doing what God had instructed him to do and God smoothed out the road for him to accomplish his task.
All he had to do now was tell a city that they were on the path to destruction. No biggie.
But if God can order a whale to swallow Jonah. And if he can command the whale to spit him out…alive…surely he can help Jonah with the strength to keep his vows.
Yes he can. Yes he will. Yes he does.
Whatever you need, God will provide. He will provide the right words for the situation. He will provide the strength. The peace. The compassion. The finances. Whatever you need – need, not want – God will provide. And if he doesn’t provide what you were asking for, there was a reason. There is always a reason!
Jonah saw a miracle in the belly of the fish. He saw God come through when he most likely had doubts. Jonah wasn’t super-human, he was an ordinary man. He had fears and doubts and skepticism. He wasn’t sitting in the stomach of the fish knowing for a fact that God was going to rescue him. He was praying this prayer thinking, like we all do, that God may not answer him how he wanted to be answered.
“Ok God, please hear my prayer! Because, I don’t know if you saw what just happened, but I just got swallowed by a giant fish. I’m going to thank you for everything you’ve done for me. Lord, if you save me right now, I promise I’ll make good with my vows. Salvation comes from the Lord. Salvation comes from the Lord. Salvation comes from the Lord.”
Jonah needed to see the consequences of his actions and to see the miracle of being saved from them in order to have the strength and confidence in God to accomplish his task.
No matter what whale has swallowed you whole, God is watching and will come through. He will rescue you from the impossible. Keep giving him thanks, keep sacrificing, keep being obedient to him and he will save you. Our God is big, he made the heavens and the earth (Psalm 121:2), he will never leave or forsake you (Deut. 31:6), he has started something in you that he will complete (Phil. 1:6) and you will be blessed for believing this (Luke 1:45).