Out of my distress I cried to Yahweh and he answered me, from the belly of Sheol I cried out; you heard my voice!
For you threw me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the floods closed round me. All your waves and billows passed over me; then I thought, ‘I am banished from your sight; how shall I ever see your holy Temple again?’
The waters round me rose to my neck, the deep was closing round me, seaweed twining round my head.
To the roots of the mountains, I sank into the underworld, and its bars closed round me for ever. But you raised my life from the Pit, Yahweh my God!
When my soul was growing ever weaker, Yahweh, I remembered you, and my prayer reached you in your holy Temple.
Some abandon their faithful love by worshipping false gods, but I shall sacrifice to you with songs of praise. The vow I have made I shall fulfil! Salvation comes from Yahweh!
- New Jerusalem Bible
Is it an indictment of the sad state of my spirituality that I feel closer to God precisely when, it seems, he’s moved further away? It must be a function of illness that as the things of this earth grow strangely dim, prospects of heaven tend to brighten :-)
I’m better at listening to God lying down. As fever overtakes me, the situation is wrested from my grasp. I am, in the words of Christ, an ‘old’ man – stretching out my hands, being dressed and led by others. In extremis, in such a state of helplessness, I begin to covet the ministrations of God. Yes, Jesus, gather me. GATHER me under Your wings!
- I cried to Yahweh – he answered me… I cried out – you heard my voice. A primal cry, like a baby’s. At the pathologist’s rooms, I wait while blood is taken from an infant who, naturally, objects violently. The mother enters with a hopeful smile, exits upset and careworn. But, she exits with her child in her arms. He hears my voice. And he answers.
- you threw me… your waves and billows… banished from your sight… The cause of suffering is laid, unabashedly, at the feet of Yahweh. Jonah is sunk by God, not Satan – and he knows it. My illness is not the consequence of bad karma, misfortune, being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Remember Joseph’s perspective: God intended it for good, namely “the saving of many lives.” There is good reason for my pneumonia. There is divine intentionality. It’s not, necessarily, even about me.
- But… Oh, the buts of Scripture! Jesus: “You’ve heard it said; but I tell you…” Paul: “But now a righteousness from God apart from the law has been made known.” The gospel according to Jonah is, “But you raised my life from the Pit” – articulated in prayer, remember, while the prophet is still down and out. What faith! “The prayer of a righteous person (i.e. offered in faith – James 5:15) is powerful and effective.” A faith-full but can lead to resurrection.
- I remembered you… My faith is sometimes fickle, turning to God as a last resort. He knows this, and so often prods my memory. The communion meal; the reminding ministry of the Spirit. Church tradition is all about remembering. A robust spirituality learns to remember well.