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Jonah and Thanksgiving?

I think about all the lessons I’ve heard from the book of Jonah over my life. There have been lessons about obedience, faithfulness, and love for neighbors and enemies. But I don’t think I ever heard a lesson about thanksgiving.

That is, until now.

It’s right there in the heart of the story and in the belly of the great fish! Jonah cries out to God, “I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay. Salvation belongs to the Lord!” (Jonah 2:9).

And if Jonah can give thanks in his very dark place, maybe we can give thanks even when the darkness seems to consume us.Thanksgiving from the Pit - Jonah 2:2

A Fish Tank Full of Thankful?

This message continues my 2019 Thanksgiving series, “A Tank Full of Thankful.” Jonah was definitely an interesting direction to turn, but since it follows a sermon from Isaiah, I think I’ve already set a precedent for seeking thankfulness in unexpected places.

I love that you can’t read Jonah without finding Jesus there. In fact, he’s the one who makes the connection for us. Look into that deep pit of failure of a fish where Jonah found himself trapped and you find Jesus there. As low as Jonah sank, Jesus sank lower. As deep as the darkness that surrounds you might be, Jesus is still there. That’s why you can have thanksgiving from the pit.

…And Thanks for All the Fish

I owe a lot of thanks to Tim Mackie and his excellent treatment on Jonah in the Exploring My Strange Bible podcast. Tim has a depth of understanding of the text that fits perfectly with his ability to convey its meaning to modern readers. He’s also a lot of fun to listen to. You can check out his series on Jonah by clicking here.


For my own enjoyment of Jonah (and from Tim’s recommendation), I also must recommend “You! Jonah!” a book of poems by Thomas John Carlisle. It is entertaining, insightful, and–just like the biblical book of Jonah–you’ll find its words pointed back at yourself far too often. The book is currently out of print, but I received my copy through Amazon from the author’s family.


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