I love reading stories in the Bible and seeing how God uses those same stories to show us how our lives are not too different. In fact, when faced with challenges, the Bible gives us the answer to our problems and we can learn from those that have already experienced what we are going through. How cool is that?
I was reading Jonah 2:1-10 one morning and I could clearly see how Jonah and I had something in common. No, I did not get trapped in the belly of a whale, but I have had my share of situations that had me feeling trapped and left wondering will I get out of this situation? How can I get out of this? I wondered if God could heal me from the brokenness that had me trapped and hurt?
“From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God. He said: “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, and the currents swirled about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me. I said, ‘I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple. The engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head. To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever. 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, to your holy temple. “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. What I have vowed I will make good. I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.” And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.” - Jonah 2: 1- 10 (NIV)
Can you imagine being consumed by a whale? Jonah had to be terrified! I am sure it was dark, there were all sorts of dead things that had already been eaten sharing the same space, and the smell had to be horrible. I bet Jonah was frustrated because he was planted, trapped in the belly of a whale with nowhere to go.
As I was thinking about Jonah’s experience, I started to think about moments in my where I felt trapped. Some of it was because of my choices and disobedience, and some of it was just the nature of this sinful world. I remember a time as a child when I had to watch my mother experience abuse. That moment was so dark and painful. The scent of anger and manipulation would fill the room as her abuser would take his anger out on her. I can remember sitting there with nowhere to go and felt as if I had no one to tell. I now realize that was far from the truth. That is one of the ploys of the enemy. He wants us to think that we are alone and will toss the word “shame, guilt, or embarrassed” on situations to prevent us from being free. He longs to keep us trapped physically and mentally. However, God’s word in Romans 8:1 says there is no condemnation. We must learn the schemes the enemy tries to use to keep us feeling imprisioned and combat it with truth.
As a single mother for 22 years, I often faced situations that made me feel trapped financially and with managing my time. I worked long hours to provide, but that also became the trap the enemy used to try and limit my time with my son, family, and friends. Isolation is not something God wants us to do. He created us to interact with others. We get our strength from His word and people that love and care about us.
When I felt the pressure as a single parent, it was my first instinct to try and fix whatever the situation was. I eventually realized that I had no strength without Christ but with Him, I could overcome any challenge that came my way. I learned to cry out to God and trust that He heard my prayers. There were times when an immediate solution to my problem was provided, and there were other times; I had to walk through the process of stepping forward in faith trusting God would make a way out of what looked to be no way out.
I am not sure if you have had situations in your life, like Jonah and I were you felt trapped, or you may feel like there is no hope for you based on your current situation. Wherever you are in life, remember these three statements that still hold true:
1. In your distress, you can call on the Lord and He hears you. You can call on him right where you are. It does not matter if you are at work, jail, homeless, or in church, you can call out to God.
2. Get the lesson that you are being taught while you are in the situation. For me, one of the greatest lessons I learned as a single mother was asking for help. I could not continue being prideful. I had to trust others had good intentions and were perhaps praying for someone they could help. We have to know how to give and receive. Both actions are necessary.
3. God can take you from the pit of chaos, pain, and rejection to a place of peace, freedom, and love. Yes, I am a living witness that He can. If God did it for me, I know He can do it for you. He loves you and wants what is best for you.
Whether you are in the pit because of your disobedience or because of someone else’s decisions, ask God to help you step out of the pit and into His presence. You are worth it to Him!
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