With the Voice of Thanksgiving
“But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you.” – Jonah 2:9 (NRSV)
Jonah spoke those words from the belly of a whale. He’d been inside the creature for three days and three nights, after being thrown off a ship bound for Tarshish. Jonah wanted to escape from God’s call to go to Nineveh, so he tried to sail away from God. But as Psalm 139 affirms, even if Jonah took the “wings of the morning and settled at the farthest limits of the sea,” even there God’s hand would lead him, and God’s right hand hold him fast.
By his third day, Jonah had learned that truth. In the utter darkness inside the whale, he prayed: “I called to the Lord out of my distress, and God answered me; out of the belly of Sheol I cried and you heard my voice” (2:2).
Even as the waters closed in over him, the weeds wrapped around him, and his life ebbed away, Jonah remembered God with gratitude. Still in the depths of the sea. Still in crisis. Still encased in whatever mess might be in a whale’s stomach, Jonah prayed “with the voice of thanksgiving.”
There is no telling what mess and depths you or me or this world might be in today. Wherever we are, may we—like Jonah—remember God is still with us and still hears our cries. May that truth give us the voice of thanksgiving.
Thank you, God, for being with us in this time and all times. Amen.
Talitha Arnold is Senior Minister of the United Church of Santa Fe (UCC), Santa Fe, New Mexico. She is the author of Mark Part 1 and Mark Part 2 of the Listen Up! Bible Study series and Worship for Vital Congregations.