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The Fish That Swallowed Jonah: How Our Problems May Exist To Help Others

Updated on February 3, 2017
Jonah and the Whale by Pieter Lastman 1621
Jonah and the Whale by Pieter Lastman 1621 | Source

Most know about the prophet Jonah. How he was sent to tell the people of Nineveh to repent but was unwilling to do the job. He then tried to run away from God and His message to Niniveh but, of course, he could not, and while on board a ship, God sent a mighty storm to terrify all those who would help Jonah escape.

Jonah himself was asleep and it was only after he was interrogated that it was discovered that the storm could be because of him. Jonah's solution was to throw him into the tempestuous waters so that the Lord's anger would be satisfied and they would escape with their lives. Though the men tried everything, they eventually had to throw him overboard, asking God for forgiveness all the while.

Jonah fully expected to die but God had other plans.

He sent a great fish to swallow him whole and Jonah spent three days in the belly of the fish before it vomited him out alive and well, able to tell the people to repent.


Fun Fact

Whale vomit, also known as Ambergris, is considered to be very valuable as it is quite rare.It is sometimes used in perfumes to make the scent last longer. It comes from the sperm whale and happens when that whale has had indigestion. A small rock of Ambergris could go for thousands of dollars!

What About That Fish?

After reading the book of Jonah recently, it occurred to me that I had never really thought about that fish.

If Jonah was in its belly for three days then that fish must have had some serious indegestion for that time and must have been terribly uncomfortable. Perhaps it could not eat because of the discomfort and it must have felt huge relief after God allowed it to throw up Jonah.

The fish would not have known that why it swallowed Jonah or that it was going to throw up Jonah. All it would have known was that through a series of unfortunate events it had eaten something that did not agree with it and the result was that the something could not be digested. God so ordered this turn of events but the fish would have been oblivious to the fact that it was the prophet Jonah in its stomach.

The Book of Jonah - read it in six minutes

These thoughts led me to see that many times we are very much like that fish. There are things in our lives that may be uncomfortable for us or painful but they might happen to us in order to help someone else fulfill God's plan for them.

Consider this scenario. You are out on the street and your shoe decides to give out on you. I use this example because it has happened to me so many times that I now walk with an extra pair of shoes just in case. You have to walk barefoot for some time (or hop on one foot) until you get to the nearest shoe store where you have to use the money you were trying to make stretch on a new pair of shoes. You walk away that day thinking that it was a bad day. Your feet hurt, your pockets are lighter and you wonder what it was all for. Little do you know that the sales clerk in the shoe store works on commission and had not had a sale for quite a long time. Things are tough and she was just waiting for a sale to happen. You entered and your mishap was her good fortune. Your problem helped her and you did not even know about it!

This is just a loose example but you get the idea of what I mean, don't you?

Thinking about it this way made me wonder just how many things have happened like this. We are all connected and it is very common to hear people say what a small world it truly is when certain connections are revealed and so I do not think it is farfetched to say that our problems may just be the thing that others need to solve their problems.

Our problems may just also lead others to the path of righteousness.

We never know who is watching us and how our actions affect others. It may be years before someone tells you a certain comment you made changed the way that they thought or acted. Our ignorance on the matter of the chain of events of a difficult time and what that difficult time does to others positively most likely will never be known but thinking about Jonah's great fish gives me comfort knowing that it is all in God's plan. Even when we are down, in turmoil and our hearts feel heavy, He is at work.



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    • North Wind profile image

      North Wind 13 months ago from The World (for now)

      Great point,,

      Our lives serve as 'light' as Christ Himself said.

    • profile image 13 months ago from upstate, NY

      "There are things in our lives that may be uncomfortable for us or painful but they might happen to us in order to help someone else fulfill God's plan for them."

      This is all true, we never know how the events in our lives impact others. Also others will be able to see that we suffer life's hardship's as others do but when they see the God in us, lifting us up, it will be a testimony to them.

    • North Wind profile image

      North Wind 13 months ago from The World (for now)

      Hi lambservant,

      Thanks for reading. When I read about the whale vomit I thought the same thing. Ha! It is worth a heap of money surprisingly which just goes to show the same thing - that whale has absolutely no idea how much someone wants his bile. Van Gogh had no idea that his art would be so appreciated and loved. Sometimes, we really do not know how our lives will affect others.

    • lambservant profile image

      Lori Colbo 13 months ago from Pacific Northwest

      Interesting topic here. Very unique. But it's true that one person's misfortune can work toward the blessing of another.

      Whale vomit in perfume? Ew, gross. lol