Jonah and the Art of Being Broken

| March 6, 2015

We teach our children many things. We teach them to be strong, brave, and swift, yet patient, kind, and gentle. Rarely do we teach them how to be broken. Yet brokenness before the Lord is the fount of these very blessings. Courage and meekness flows most generously from a broken and contrite heart.

A few years ago, I was a zealous collector of Jonah picture books from libraries all over Illinois. The obsession began when I was searching for a faithful rendition for my children. Among the few dozen books I acquired, nearly all of them claimed that Jonah prayed for forgiveness in the belly of the fish. I found this interpretation a little unsettling. In my readings of chapter two, taught by a few professors at my seminary, Jonah did not repent. He did not even acknowledge that he had done anything wrong.

My obsession with picture books soon turned into an obsession with the book of Jonah. I had the most difficult time understanding Jonah’s prayer. What am I missing? Why do I not see words related to sin and repentance in his prayer? Jonah was using verses and phrases from the Psalms. Yet somehow his prayer had a…

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