Inside the Belly of a Whale

The story of Jonah is a classic Bible tale and an interesting one. It’s probably one of the most remembered and most popular out of all the stories in the Bible. There’s not too many people that I’m aware of who don’t know the basic story of Jonah.

It’s a short book – only a few pages long and fairly straight-forward. Oddly enough, it’s located pretty much in the ‘belly’ of the Bible. Kind of in the middle, a little offset.

You can read the story for yourself (I promise, it’s an easy one). It basically boils down to this dude named Jonah who is on a ship with these sailors, he disobeys God and tries to escape, gets thrown off the ship into the ocean, sinks to the bottom, and is swallowed by a whale. We’ve all been there in some way, shape, or form.

You do a thing you’re not very skilled at, or have no patience for, maybe not proud of, or just totally half-ass something, or you give up before you even try. There’s so many ways to fuck a thing up. Before you know it, you’ve sunk to the bottom of your situation.

You’ve given up and given in and aren’t going to do anything about it. You’ve made your decision and have your excuses. Before you know it, you’re in the basement, wasting time away, playing video games, watching TV, endlessly scrolling through the internet, maybe something way worse. This is the belly, my friend. You have cries of self-pity, but no one hears them because they’re locked away.

Me personally, I welcome these belly moments. It’s dark, quiet, I get to think for myself, and I love sushi! I never want to leave that nice warm belly. But most of the time, it’s not my choice. Eventually the whale is going to spit me out and I like to be prepared.

We can replay that belly moment over and over again in our lives. I would like nothing more than to do so. It’s what’s comfortable. But I don’t think that’s what God has planned. And considering what happened the first time around, we should probably listen to Him at some point, so we can get beyond that belly, even just to see what is out there. If nothing else, do it for the people who care about you.

"Jonah had gone out and sat down at a place east of the city. There he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city. Then the Lord God provided a leafy plant and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the plant. But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the plant so that it withered. When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah’s head so that he grew faint. He wanted to die, and said, “It would be better for me to die than to live."- Jonah 5:9

I didn’t know about this part of Jonah’s story. God seems like huge a dick here. I mean, help a dude out. He was inside a whale, that’s not very typical of most human beings. We’re special for crying out loud! How can someone just expect Jonah to come out all shiny, happy, and filled with rainbows and butterflies?

Not much is known about this plant that had grown over Jonah’s head. Some translations call it a “gourd”. It’s also strange that God would send a worm to wither it away at the stem. Worms don’t even have teeth!

Perspective

Let’s try to see God’s perspective – the designer and creator of the human being. What might be really happening here?

The Stem = the Brain Stem

“The brain stem is very small, making up around only 2.6 percent of the brain’s total weight. It has the critical roles of regulating cardiac, and respiratory function, helping to control heart rate and breathing rate. It also provides the main motor and sensory nerve supply to the face and neck via the cranial nerves. Ten pairs of cranial nerves come from the brainstem. “

The ‘Gourd’ = The chord
(The spinal chord)

“The spinal cord is a long, fragile tubelike structure that begins at the end of the brain stem and continues down almost to the bottom of the spine. The spinal cord consists of bundles of nerve axons forming pathways that carry incoming and outgoing messages between the brain and the rest of the body.”

“The ‘Worm’ = The nerve(s) that run(s) through the Chord to the Stem.

The “worm”, when overloaded (or “whithered away”), can cause sensory issues at the stem, which may include, irritability and possibly more serious complications.

God’s Message

God is telling Jonah to try to calm his anger, it’s not good for him. It will cause his ‘stem’ to ‘wither’.

You see, God designed us, but he also gave us free will. We get to choose what we do with our apparatus.

God is always looking out for our best interest, even if we don’t see it.
I never knew about that last part of Jonah. It’s a weird ending. First of all, the ending is up in the air. I kind of hate endings like that because then I have to make something up – like I get to CHOOSE Jonah’s adventure. I do like to think that Jonah finally conquers his anger and becomes best buds with God.

We may never know.