WHEN WE HIT ROCK BOTTOM by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson
We are in our new series on the Book of Jonah, called, “RUNNING FROM GOD” and this morning we are in Jonah 2 for our third message titled “WHEN WE HIT ROCK BOTTOM.” All of us at some point in our lives have reached that place where the only way to go is up. Maybe some of you are there this morning. Don’t lose hope. Desperation can be a life-changing experience.
Jonah 2:1-3 1 Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the fish’s belly. 2 And he said: “I cried out to the LORD because of my affliction, And He answered me. ‘Out of the belly of Sheol I cried, And You heard my voice. 3 For You cast me into the deep, Into the heart of the seas, And the floods surrounded me; All Your billows and Your waves passed over me. 4 Then I said, “I have been cast out of Your sight; Yet I will look again toward Your holy temple.’
Overall Background: Ask any child in Sunday School if they’ve heard the story of Jonah and the whale (big fish) and a smile will come across their face. We all know of the prophet Jonah whom God called to go to Nineveh and instead he ran in the opposite direction towards Tarshish. He got on a ship and went down to the lowest part, lay down, and was fast asleep. “God can’t find me here.” Really?!! God knows exactly where every person is every moment. Jeremiah 23:24 “Can anyone hide himself in secret places, So I shall not see him?” says the LORD; “Do I not fill heaven and earth?” says the LORD.
God knew where Jonah was and He sent a violent storm on the sea, so that the ship was about to broken up. Was God trying to punish him? Of course not! He doesn’t punish His children but he often disciplines them. Jonah knew that God was dealing with him so he told the sailors to pick him up and toss him into the raging sea and all will be well. Sure enough when they threw him overboard, the sea became calm. If that were the end, we would not be reading this book today. Listen to what came next. Jonah 1:17 “Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.” Jonah 2 tells us what went on for those three days and three nights.In Jonah’s own words, he went down to hell. He went so low that he could see the roots of the mountains. In other words, he hit rock bottom.
Application: Let me ask you – have you hit rock bottom in your life? Are you rock bottom right now? How are you dealing with it? By the way, you don’t have to be in the belly of the fish to hit rock bottom. It can happen in the form of a personal tragedy, horrible accident, terrible sickness, relationship crisis, job loss, or financial problem.
This morning we will learn what to do when we hit rock bottom from Jonah 2.
1. ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR HELPLESSNESS.
3 “For You cast me into the deep, Into the heart of the seas,
For e.g. Think of the missing Malaysian plane. It is more than likely in the Indian Ocean. With all our technology and gadgets we cannot seem to find it.
Jonah is inside a big fish in the sea. Imagine how lost and helpless he is.
3 “For You cast me into the deep, Into the heart of the seas, And the floods (Literally: river swirled about me) surrounded me;
The question in my mind is “Is Jonah in the Sea or in the River?” Sea is usually calm in the deep. So outside the fish it is calm but it is deep. Inside the fish it is like a river. Keep in mind that this fish is swimming. Verse 3again “All Your billows (breakers) and Your waves passed over me.” Jonah is not in some submarine taking a joy ride. He is being pounded left and right. Jonah is for the first time realizing how physically helpless and insignificant he is.
Some people trust in their bodily strength. Some people trust in their good looks. Some people trust in their connections. Some people trust in their wallets. When you are in the hospital room with your loved hooked up to all kinds of machines, that’s when you realize that you are not as big and tough as you thought. You would give everything you had to revert that situation but you can’t. I’m not suggesting that we need to act all helpless and weak. What I am saying is that we should acknowledge how small we are.
But it gets deeper – Verse 5 The waters surrounded me, even to my soul; Jonah is saying, “I felt like my soul was drowning.” What else? “The deep closed around me; Weeds were wrapped around my head.” At first reading, I want to laugh. I can picture Jonah with a bandana of reeds around his head. But what he is really saying is that he is choking.
Verse 6 I went down to the moorings (base) of the mountains; The earth with its bars closed behind me forever.” Jonah is inside the big fish, plus surrounded by water, plus jostled around. How can he see where he is?The language he is employing is more spiritual than physical. What Jonah is saying is that he no longer knows where he is. You may not believe me but there are people here this morning that are exactly in that spot. They may not be inside the belly of a fish but spiritually they feel empty and lifeless.
Application: Are you trusting in your physical strength, outside beauty, connections, wealth, or family? Are you willing to acknowledge your helplessness.It can all be taken from you in a millisecond. Sometimes you can even feel spiritually helpless. Daily in my prayer time I tell God that I am nothing more than a clod of earth.
2. AFFIRM GOD’S PROMISES.
Jonah 2:1 Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the fish’s belly.
Background: Did you get that? Listen again – “Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God” = “El Yahweh Elohayaw.” So far it has only been Yahweh (Jehovah). It was all impersonal. Now he is in the belly of the fish. All the superficial is being stripped away and the prayer has become personal.It’s one thing to say, “The Lord is a Shepherd” but its quite another to say, “The Lord is My Shepherd.”
What’s more? Listen to verse 2 And he said: “I cried out to the LORD. This is no rote prayer. This is a real cry for help. I can’t help but think of Peter walking on water. As long as he kept his eyes on Jesus, he was fine. “But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” (Mathew 14:30) The moment he focused on his circumstances he began to sink and he cried out = he screamed.
2 And he said: “I cried out to the LORD because of my affliction.
Let’s put Jonah on the stand. “Jonah you disobeyed God. What makes you think that God will hear your prayer?”
Jonah’s Answer: Because God said in Psalm 50:15 “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.”
“But Jonah you really blew it.” I know but Psalm 103:9-14 says “…Nor will He keep His anger forever. 10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor punished us according to our iniquities. 11 For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; 12 As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us. 13 As a father pities his children, So the LORD pities those who fear Him. 14 For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.
So Jonah claimed the promises of God and prayed. As he prayed, his faith began to rise.
Jonah 2:2b-3 2b “And He answered me. ‘Out of the belly of Sheol I cried, And You heard my voice. 4 Then I said, “I have been cast out of Your sight;Yet I will look again toward Your holy temple.” 6 Yet You have brought up my life from the pit, O LORD, my God. 7 “When my soul fainted within me, I remembered the LORD; And my prayer went up to You, Into Your holy temple.
Application: What promises are you holding on to? Throughout my life I’ve had many – “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” “He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” “All things work together for good to those who love God.” “My grace is sufficient for you for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”
3. ACT ON YOUR COMMITMENTS.
9 But I will sacrifice to You With the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay what I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD.”
Many people make commitments to God when they are in the foxhole. If you will only get me out, I will serve you. God gets us out and we forget. Jonah kept his word. He wrote it down for us.
For e.g. Family in church back home that made a vow for their daughter to get healed and then forgot.
Application: Do you have an outstanding vow to the Lord? Do you have a pending commitment towards the Lord?
4. ALLOW GOD TO FINISH YOUR STORY
We know why Jonah asked the sailors to toss him into the sea. He knew that he had really blown his testimony with these guys. For him to stand before them and share the gospel was worthless. They wouldn’t listen. It was time to demonstrate the gospel. By the way, people are tired of our words. They want to see the gospel lived out in us.
Jonah was acting out what Jesus would do one day. Jesus won’t be running from God. In fact, He is God Himself. He will come by “the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God” and human beings will take Him “by lawless hands” and crucify Him (Acts 2:23-24). That’s the only way God’s wrath against sin will be satisfied.
God says “Okay Jonah. You’re willing to let your life be a testimony to the death of Christ. I will make your life a testimony to the resurrection of Christ.
10 So the LORD spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.
God can do the same for you. No matter how far you fall from God, the moment you turn and return to Him, your life becomes a living testimony. Isn’t that wonderful?!!
Do you know Jesus as your Savior?