Let’s be serious: Jonah is one of the greatest books of the Bible. It’s such a weird, revealing, powerful, and fantastic story, that I love going over it again and again. We don’t know anything about Jonah, other than the fact that he tries to run from God’s call. He’s faithful and faithless, wimpy and brave all at the same time. In other words, Jonah is us.
From the midst of the great fish that God sends to swallow this would-be prophet, Jonah offers one of the most heartfelt and sincere prayers that I have ever encountered. Even from inside this watery tomb he proclaims: “But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay. Deliverance belongs to the Lord!” (Jonah 2:9)
And Jonah was delivered indeed. The NRSV translation of the Bible says that the great fish “spewed Jonah out upon the dry land” (2:10). That’s right, the fish vomited Jonah.
What I’m getting at is this: when we find ourselves in sticky situations, when it seems that everything we’re doing is going wrong and when we pray for deliverance, God will release us. But it may not be pretty. Our deliverance may be covered over with some “holy vomit.” It may require tears and heartbreak to be spewed out from our watery tombs. Thanks be to God that, no matter how sticky, messy, and smelly that deliverance may be, we will find ourselves upon a fair shore.