“However, the men rowed desperately to return to land but they could not, for the sea was becoming even stormier against them” (Jon. 1:13).
A desperate attempt to bypass God’s will is vain. When God wants us to do something and we try to take a detour, it doesn’t go well. The case of Jonah is an interesting chapter. He tried to bypass God’s will for the reason that he did not wish for the people of Nineveh to find repentance. He was more judging than forgiving. Perhaps throughout his life he saw and understood God only from few perspectives. God gave him a task that was different to what he thought so that Jonah would know Him fully. He is not always an avenging God, but much more a forgiving and compassionate One when people respond to Him. Since Jonah lived in times of justice for severity against God’s compassion, he perhaps could not take up God’s wish. So, he ran away from it.
However, Jonah was a chosen preacher of God to proclaim His mind. An interesting aspect here is that God does not let such preachers take their own course. God calls them with a strong intent, more than believers, so that they at any point do not use their own reasoning. And when they try to use their reasoning, He pulls them back as in the case of Jonah. Jonah was fleeing from God’s will to Tarshish. But a great storm from God hindered him. The sailors cast lot and it fell on Jonah implying that he sinned against God. Jonah explained himself and told them to throw him into the sea, if they were to be saved. Now, the verse in consideration took place at this juncture.
The sailors tried to save him, but God’s anger only grew and the sea became stormier. Who could have thought it! Jonah considered only one option, i.e. to be thrown into the sea. He could have asked the sailors to turn back and drop him off where he boarded the ship. Or, he could have asked them to turn the ship toward Nineveh, but he did not. The sailors would have done it too, for they were desperate for life. His wisdom of God worked in him. He knew God was seeking an immediate response from him. Meaning, an immediate and quick remorse for his actions and his heart did not wish to wait another moment, but instead repented and took an urgent action leaving the consequences to God. This wisdom was born in him when the sea became stormier. A greater desperation for God was needed. When there are times in life where we can no longer move forward and God’s hand is not with us, we should be quick to introspect and repent. Any attempts to steer desperately out of the situation or allow others to save us will only cause more pain, fear and even disaster. Once Jonah was in the sea, the storm ended and we know the rest. If we do not repent, there is a great danger of facing severe loss as well as taking others to it along with us. The others could be anyone from our friends, acquaintances, relatives to our own family.