So what does Jonah do once he is swallowed by the Big Fish? Exactly what most of us would do:
He cried out to God.
But as I considered his prayer I was surprised by something he said right at the beginning. If I was in such a predicament, I imagine that I would be saying something like,
"Get me outta here!!!!! Please!!!!!"
But Jonah's words are:
"I called out of my distress to the Lord, and He answered me."
See that? He said CALLED, not calling. He had already prayed before the fish, probably as he was sinking to the bottom of the sea. And he said God HAD answered. Past tense. God HAD responded to his prayer.
But Jonah was in a fish. He was still in a mess.
Jonah recognized that the belly of a fish was a better place than the bottom of the ocean. He saw the good in the less-than-good
Jonah saw the fish as an answer, not a problem.
I'm challenged again by this man Jonah.
Do I see the hand of God working in my life even when I am in an undesirable situation? Do I always expect God's response to my petitions to be neat and tidy? Do I withhold my praise until the "real" answer to my prayer arrives? Or like Jonah, can I say "Thank you for answering, Lord" even when things still smell a bit fishy.