In the previous installment, the crew of the ship cast lots and discovered that Jonah was the reason that they were facing the storm. They asked Jonah what he had done to anger God. Today, Jonah faces a decision.
11 They said to him, “What will we do about you so that the sea will become calm around us?” (The sea was continuing to rage.)
12 He said to them, “Pick me up and hurl me into the sea! Then the sea will become calm around you. I know it’s my fault that this great storm has come upon you.” — Jonah 1:11-12
So far, the story of Jonah is a book about problems and solutions.
- There’s a problem in Ninevah and God tells Jonah to go there to be part of the solution.
- That’s a problem for Jonah and he sees his solution as running from God on a ship bound for Tarshish.
- Then another problem arises: the ship is tossed about in a storm. Those on board try all kinds of solutions — praying to their gods, throwing cargo over the side of the ship, casting lots.
Ultimately though, all of those attempts at “solutions” fail. The situation has not changed. The ship is still being tossed about in the storm and those on board are still afraid.
Jonah is faced with the reality of that situation here. He tells these sailors that he worships God and he’s also told them that he’s running away from God. They connect Jonah’s choice to run away to the storm they now face. It leads to a very pointed question from the crew, “Jonah, what are you going to do about this?”
Jonah’s “run” from God ends with a decision made in the face of a storm (both an actual storm and a metaphorical storm).
In that moment, Jonah tells the sailors to throw him into the sea. If they do that, then the storm will pass, the sea will calm and everything will be back to the way it should be.
When his attempt to run from God goes awry, Jonah sees that this is the moment to wave the white flag. He’s going to surrender to God and to whatever happens next. The solution to this problem he created is surrender and sacrifice.
Maybe you are in one of those moments or seasons in life when you’ve been running from God? What would change for you, for us, today if we made a choice to surrender to God, to turn and face God, to sacrifice what we’ve been holding on to?