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Get up, call out and perhaps

The ship’s officer came and said to him, “How can you possibly be sleeping so deeply? Get up! Call on your god! Perhaps the god will give some thought to us so that we won’t perish.” Jonah 1:6

Have you ever been depressed? Depressed people sometimes sleep a lot. Depressed people are people who are losing hope. Hopelessness is very different than conviction of sin leading to repentance. The depressed person has disqualified themselves from redemption. They are beyond saving, in their own minds. Depressed people are more pessimistic than optimistic. Depressed people are inward focused. They don't consider other people, nor consider God as much as outward focused people do.

The ship's officer does not ask why Jonah is sleeping and he does not shame or accuse him. He just observes Jonah's behavior as being completely out of line with the present circumstances and calls him to get with it. He says, "what is this?"and "get with it".

The officer's command to, "get up and call on your god", are very similar to God's call to Jonah to, "go to Ninevah and preach". It's a second call, similar to the first. He didn't get up and go speak the first time and now in different circumstances, the call to get up and speak, but to God this time, is repeated. It's ironic that he would not heed the call of God and now he will have to heed the call of a man. Wake up, get up, go up, and call out. Just do it. You didn't go when God called you and now a more brute force in a possibly pagan man is calling you a second time and he'll make you do it if you resist. Go!

Sometimes when we call upon a depressed person to get to work and join in, the depressed person may decline, saying that they are too weak, too broken, too sinful, or too wounded. This is the right thing to do. Joining in and being a part of the work is the best thing for the depressed person.

The ship's officer calling Jonah to duty is a picture of this. The "therapeutic approach" or sensitively noticing that this person is very dysfunctional in that they are asleep during a crisis, and letting them sleep or giving them talk therapy or a healing prayer session; would be all wrong. There's a phrase they say in the twelve step fellowships, "it works if you work it", that comes to my mind.

There is something powerful about getting up and doing something when you are depressed. In a fellowship setting, the depressed person who thinks they are of no value and are better off in bed or on the couch or in the recliner while all the "healthy people" do the "work", is better off working. Better to be a fellowship of the walking wounded.

The ship's captain enjoins Jonah to join the prayer meeting. It was "all hands on deck". What was the common prayer request? Mercy. In the desperate situation of the storm, they were calling out to every god they knew of for mercy. The captain said, "perhaps the god will give some thought to us so that we won't perish". Perhaps means we have to try, we have to ask.... It looks terrible, but perhaps. Just at least ask and perhaps we could be saved. Don't just assume we are doomed, but ask for mercy; for help or rescue. The captain is saying that, "we have not given up, but seeing that there is nothing more we can do to save ourselves, we are calling upon the gods, and I want you, Jonah, to call upon your god with us. Perhaps your god will hear and answer in saving us."

This is very good advice, to always pray no matter what and no matter how dire the circumstances are; to not stop praying. Perhaps God will intervene. Perseverance. Don't give up. Perhaps God will do something good. God is good. Persistence and perseverance in prayer are good Biblical ideas. The Bible says to do these things. Pray until something happens.

Perhaps is an attitude. Perhaps God will heal. Perhaps God will save. Perhaps God will deliver. Perhaps God will give you the desire of your heart that He perhaps put there. Perhaps God will bring revival. Perhaps God will save the most sinful people you can think of. People that say "perhaps" are people open to and desperate for the move of God.


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