In a very Hollywood-esque fashion, it's tempting to think that perhaps when Jonah was thrown overboard into the raging sea, the sea calmed and then, a giant fish jumped out of the water and snatched him up, Free Willy-style. This fish would have been un-missable, with even the sailors on the ship turning their heads to look at the spectacle.
But there's no reason from the Scriptures to think that this is at all how it happened. And is this really the way that God often works?
It's far more likely that Jonah was treading water, then sinking into the sea, and a big fish came through the waters to swallow and to rescue him, quietly, and that the sailors on the ship didn't know anything about it. They probably never saw the fish, never knew about it, never had any idea what happened to Jonah once he hit the waves, except, of course, to say that he surely drowned, for they never saw him again. (It would have been nice of him if he'd gone and found those sailors at some point, though, and let them know they had not killed a man. But whatever.)
It raises an interesting point, and one that is worth reminding ourselves of over and over and over again. That point is this: you just never know what kind of provision God is making in someone else's life.
It's so easy for us to look at someone else's life and to judge it. Oh, we say, they're drowning. How tragic and sad. Why isn't their God coming to rescue them? They must be sinners. Can't even tread water long enough to save their own lives. What a shame. What a pity. You'd think that if their God were real, He'd be here by now. So much for faith. So much for believing in anything. What a waste.
And so on and so on it goes, from the outside looking in, knowing only what we know and what we can see in the raging seas.
But God is always, always at work in this world in ways that we don't know, in ways that we cannot see, doing things that we could not fathom and that, a lot of the time, we'll never even know about. Because when they aren't our things, we don't necessarily need to know about them until and unless the person whose things they are decides to give a testimony on them.
Who on that ship would ever have thought that God was at work in the seas, bringing a big fish into the choppy waters to swallow, but not to eat, His prophet? Who on that ship could have possibly known it was even possible to live in the belly of a fish? They spent their entire lives on the sea, knew the waters well, and yet, God was doing something they still could not have known, let alone fathomed or understood.
Who among us has eyes to see what he cannot see?
What would it change about our faith if we could? What would it change about what we believe about God, about faith, about one another, about grace, about mercy, about love if we could see the provision that God is making right now for someone else? Provision that is beyond our wildest imagination, beyond our best knowledge base, beyond our line of sight? What would it change about the way we believe if we could see what we cannot yet see?
How would it change the way that we love the wayward prophet, if we knew what God was doing for him? How would it change the way we love the Lord?
What if we knew there was a fish in all that water? Seriously. What if we knew?