“But the LORD hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship threatened to break up.” (Jonah 1:4)
The perfect storm – it is a term used to describe a confluence of bad circumstances that combine to form a disaster of monumental proportions.
Sometimes it is used as a figure of speech to describe failures in business or even national economies; sometimes it is used to describe the way circumstances lead up to a terrible accident of some kind. Either way, it always spells trouble.
And sometimes The Perfect Storm is used of an actual storm, as was the case with Sebastian Junger’s 1998 book by the same title, which was later made into a movie, starring George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg.
Much of that story (especially in the movie) centered on the fate of the Andrea Gail, a fishing vessel and her crew that were lost at sea hundreds of miles off the coast of Gloucester, Massachusetts. That particular storm was the result of three (3) different weather events -a high pressure system, a low pressure system and a hurricane coming together in the worst possible way. This combination of factors is so rare that it is known as a “100-year storm.”
That hurricane’s name was Hurricane Grace.
We don’t know the size or the severity of the storm that the LORD threw at Jonah that day on his voyage to Tarshish. We don’t know if it was a hurricane-force storm or not, but it might as well have been. It was strong enough that “the ship threatened to break up”(v.4). This was Jonah’s very own personal Hurricane Grace!
In this particular case, the perfect storm was a combination of the wickedness of Nineveh, Jonah’s disobedience, and the sovereign grace of His LORD, who was determined to send Jonah to Nineveh to speak His Word.
This violent storm appeared to be a means of punishment and destruction, but in reality it was a means of grace – grace toward Jonah, grace toward the pagan sailors, and grace toward the wicked people of Nineveh!
Sometimes our heavenly Father sends storms into our lives. And we often perceive them to be His just punishment for our sins. But for believers in Jesus Christ, all of our sins were fully & completely punished on the Cross of Jesus Christ! His death paid the price for our sins. So when God sends storms into the lives of His children, it is still an act of grace and mercy. Maybe it is to turn us from sin; maybe it is to use us in some way to reveal Him to the lost – sometimes it is both! That was certainly the case for Jonah.
Ironically, even though it was their ship and Jonah had just paid his fare to ride along with them to Tarshish, it was really the pagan mariners were coming along for the ride.
And what a bumpy ride this was going to be!
But God in his sovereign mercy and grace would even use Jonah’s disobedience and the perfect storm that followed to reveal Himself to these heathen Mariners.
When they set sail for Tarshish, they had each been worshipers of false gods and idols. By the time they reached dry land again, they had called on the name of the LORD who made the seas and the dry land(v.14), feared the LORD, offered a sacrifice to Him, and made vows to Him (v.16)!
Surely this sets the stage for how the LORD would use His wayward prophet in Nineveh.
Jonah was going to be a fisher of men, but first, a fish would be a fisher of Jonah!