v 17. Now the Lord had arranged for a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was inside the fish for three days and three nights.
The story of Jonah is all about choices; some of them unwise, others downright disobedient to God. All of these are faced up to in the belly of the great fish – God’s choice for Jonah’s solitude. Jonah doubtless expected to die when thrown overboard, but God had planned for 3 days of solitude to help Jonah straighten out his thinking – and a worse place to pray and experience solitude I cannot imagine! But chapter 2 of the book highlights how Jonah used his time, and his impassioned prayer ends with this commitment. ‘But I will offer sacrifices to you with songs of praise, and I will fulfil all my vows. For my salvation comes from the Lord alone.’
Sometimes solitude is enforced, as Jonah’s was, but it does not necessarily mean your life has been seriously on the wrong track. When you do experience such aloneness, it might however be worth asking God ‘What is your purpose in this for me?’ It is a time to be open with God and allow him to say something personal and special to you.
Next time you feel unexpectedly and unusually alone don’t just reach for the TV remote and immerse yourself in Catch-Up, rather, ask God how you can benefit from the solitude.