|Then the LORD sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up. 5 All the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god. And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship. |
But Jonah had gone below deck, where he lay down and fell into a deep sleep. 6 The captain went to him and said, "How can you sleep? Get up and call on your god! Maybe he will take notice of us, and we will not perish." (Jonah1:4-6)
The storm is so violent that even the seasoned sailors are afraid. They're crying out to their gods, but Jonah is sleeping. Some people have suggested that depression can be anger without energy. We lock up our feelings in a box and the box gets heavier and heavier to carry around until we withdraw and retreat into sleep and inactivity to avoid the elephant in the room.
This is what Jonah is doing here. He is a prophet of the most high God. Sailors were considered unspiritual and heathen... but they are praying, and Jonah, who is best qualified to pray, is sleeping... and hiding...
The captain's amazement makes it clear that Jonah's behaviour is unusual and bizarre. Hundreds of year's later, frightened disciples would wake Jesus who also slept in the storm. But Jesus isn't suffering from depressed denial - He's not hiding from God - He is secure in the love and protection of the Father - He is in God's will and following God's plan.
Sometimes they frighten us and cause us to pray.
Sometimes we sleep because we are utterly secure in God's love.
Sometimes we sleep because we are angry and upset and don't want to face our challenges.
Jonah's anger has led him to go in the opposite direction of what he was called to. In his disillusionment he is heading for the place where "God is not." And now in ongoing denial he sleeps - ignoring the danger the storm holds - both for him and the others on the boat.
If you see something of yourself in Jonah today, don't stay isolated like he did. Reach out, talk to a wise counsellor, get help. You'll be glad you did.