November 7 I Sunday
Jeremiah 40-42 Hebrews 4
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to feel sympathy for our weaknesses…” —Hebrews 4:15
Probably the oddest location in all of Scripture to host a prayer meeting is in the belly of a fish. Yet, this was exactly where Jonah found himself, after his rebellion against God’s call for him to go preach in Nineveh. Jonah thought he could run away from God by boarding a ship headed the opposite direction, but God created a violent storm that grew wilder and wilder. Eventually, at the advice of Jonah, the sailors made the tough decision to throw Jonah overboard to calm the raging sea. By the grace of God, Jonah did not drown in the water; instead, he was swallowed by a giant fish.
Sitting in the belly of the fish, Jonah prayed, “In my distress I called to the LORD, and He answered me. From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help, and You listened to my cry. You hurled me into the depths, into the very heart of the seas…The engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me…But You, LORD my God, brought my life up from the pit. When my life was ebbing away, I remembered You, LORD, and my prayer rose to You…Those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God’s love for them. But I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to You…’” (Jonah 2:2-9). Did we notice that Jonah referred to God as “LORD”? This word is Yahweh, which is the covenant name of God.
There are four attributes of God that are common among most religions around the world: God is infinite, God is incomprehensible, God is indivisible and God is impassible. The latter describes God as indifferent to the pain and suffering of the world, who cannot be moved by something outside of Himself. Because if He was, He could be influenced or controlled by something other than His own divine imperative.
For much of human history, two schools of thought have permeated our understanding: either God is distant or removed from suffering, or He is subject to or controlled by it. Theologian Jürgen Moltmann argued that there is actually a third option: God voluntarily lays Himself open to another person and allows Himself to be intimately affected by the other person—a knowing of the other person that is felt—without being controlled. The Hebrew word “knowing” is oftentimes used for a husband and a wife coming together in intimate union.
The God whom Jonah prayed to is infinite, incomprehensible and indivisible, but not impassible. As we spend time in prayer, may we rejoice in the fact that we do not pray to an apathetic God, but the living God who opens Himself to knowing us intimately.
Prayer: Lord God, thank You for not being an apathetic God, but a God who knows me intimately. Even in the depths of my despair, You know what I am going through. Praise You!