Sometimes we have to experience the feeling of death before we can know the freedom of life. In a spiritual sense we have to give up before we can be raised up. When we realize there’s nothing more we can do, then God can intervene and save us. When Jonah gave up the hope of surviving, God intervened and saved him. Jonah had to die to his own desires before he could live.
In the highlands of Scotland, sheep often wander off into the rocks and get into places that they can’t get out of. The grass on these mountains tastes very sweet, and the sheep like it. They will jump down ten or twelve feet to a ledge with a patch of grass, and then they can’t jump back up again. The shepherd hears them bleating in distress. The shepherd may leave them there for days, until they have eaten all the grass and are so faint that they cannot stand. Only then will the shepherd put a rope around the sheep and pull them up out of the jaws of death.
Why doesn’t the shepherd attempt a rescue when the sheep first get into the predicament? The sheep are so foolish and so focused on eating that they would dash away from the shepherd, go over the precipice and destroy themselves.
Such was the case with Jonah. And such is the case with us. Sometimes we need to experience a little bit of death before we can enjoy the abundance of life. The Lord will rescue us the moment we have given up trying, realizing that we can’t liberate ourselves, and cry to him for help.
And at that moment God does something miraculous. He offers a gift – a gift of grace and mercy. Just like salvation came to Jonah, rescue will come to us.