Why Happiness Sometimes Smells Fishy
I see that raised eyebrow! When we try to come up with happy people in the Bible, Jonah isn’t exactly at the top of that list, right? When we last hear from Jonah, he is sulking outside of Nineveh! Stay with me here for a minute.
Ambergris. Do you know what that is? It’s whale vomit. And it is one of the rarest, most valuable substances on the planet. Perfumers use it to stabilize perfumes. While it does have a pretty nasty odor while fresh, as it ages, it takes on a sweet, earthy scent.1
Jonah was literally whale vomit. Of course, at first he wasn’t. Think we know which of the fight or flight column he lands in when it comes to facing fear or adversity. He ran from God by boat straight into stormy seas. Then, went overboard, nearly drowned, & was swallowed up by a big fish. And if that wasn’t enough, he spent three days & three nights there. There was nowhere for him to go until God decided to deliver him. In Jonah 2: 2-10, Jonah prayed & then God delivered him - as whale vomit - upon the beach. I don’t know about you, maybe I’m just a fast reader, but it doesn’t take me 3 days to say those 8 verses out loud. I don’t know. Maybe in his native language it does. So, what else do you think was going on with Jonah for those 3 days that he was force to be still in this extremely uncomfortable place? What happened that finally brought him to a promise of sacrifice and public declaration of praise (vs. 10)?
I believe I know. Transformation. That’s what took place. Transformation is not sunshine and rainbows. It is the storm. It’s the dark clouds and howling winds. It’s smelly and uncomfortable. And it ultimately comes from that place of being still.
Be still and know that I am God. (Psalms 46:10, NIV) 2
Or, from my favorite translation, TPT (The Passion Translation)
Surrender your anxiety! Be silent and stop your striving and you will see that I am God.3
And when Jonah became whale vomit on the beach, he received God’s mercy. God called him again. Given Jonah’s history, he really wasn’t worthy of his calling. But nonetheless, God deemed him worthy & called him again.
I like to think that right there in that moment, Jonah was happy. He was free from The Big Fish Prison. In spite of himself, God still called him. He was still considered a prophet. Because God showed him mercy.
I love the story of Jonah. I’ve done my own brand of fleeing from God. I have my own version of Nineveh… and every time I take 3 days to sit in my own discomfort, facing my own demons and shortcomings, and being convicted by the Holy Spirit of the things that taint my heart. Then reflect on all that God has delivered me from & my heart moves from mourning to rejoicing and giving God praise. Now THAT is something to be happy about!
Please join my FREE Facebook Group Kingdom Identity in Midlife. FISH Week is coming up soon. We had to move it out a week since Covid hit our household. FISH Week is a free week of Inspiration and Challenges inspired by my 3 favorite Bible Fish stories: Jonah, Loaves & Fishes and Casting the Nets on the Other Side of the Boat.
Would love to hear in comments how you relate to Jonah? Do you have a calling you would prefer to / already have run from? What is your Nineveh? Ever spend 3 uncomfortable days wrestling with the path that brought you there?
Please read more on Happiness from these wonderful blogs!
Chasing Happiness By Sharla Hallett
Finding True Happiness and Keeping It By Lisa Granger
Mom Burnout and How to Be Happy By Ashley Olivine
Seeing Happiness Right in Your Life By Dianne Vielhuber
The Summer of Happiness Recap of Summer 2021 By Jessica Haberman
How to Be Happy By Amy Cobb
Burr, Chandler (2003). The Emperor of Scent: A Story of Perfume, Obsession, and the Last Mystery of the Senses. New York: Random House. ISBN978-0-375-50797-7.
Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.comThe “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™
Scripture quotations marked TPT are from The Passion Translation®. Copyright © 2017, 2018 by Passion & Fire Ministries, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ThePassionTranslation.com