“If thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?” (Psalm 130:3).

Many Christians struggle as David did. When the holy, righteous fear of God is implanted in their souls, His terrible majesty constantly looms before them. Like David, they cry out, “Lord, who can stand before You? Who can endure Your holiness?”

Jonah asked the very same question. He was on the ocean floor, unable to escape his dilemma, when he cried out, “Thou hadst cast me into the deep, in the midst of the seas; and the floods compassed me about: all thy billows and thy waves passed over me. . . . I went down to the bottoms” (Jonah 2:3 and 6).

Who cast Jonah down into those depths of darkness? It was God! The heavenly Father took the prophet down to the very bottom and prepared the whale to swallow him.

God was not mad at Jonah, so why did He allow this to happen to him? Because He wanted to stop His servant from running away from His will. He wanted Jonah to follow His plan so that he would be blessed. In short, God took Jonah down to the depths in order to restore him.

Jonah 2:2 tells us exactly what God was after: “I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the Lord, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice.” The Lord was waiting for Jonah to turn to Him, to cry out to Him alone. “Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight; yet I will look again toward thy holy temple” (verse 4). “When my soul fainted within me I remembered the Lord” (verse 7).

Today, the Lord does the same thing with us: He allows us to sink in despair over our sin until we have no other source to turn to but Him. And finally, out of the belly of our hell, we cry, “Oh, Lord, please hear me! I have no hope. You must deliver me!”

Perhaps you have hit rock bottom over your sin. You just cannot seem to get victory over that one besetting sin and the Lord has allowed you to go down to the depths. Yet, it is all for a purpose. He is hoping that, like Jonah, you will “look again to Him.”

Rest assured, when Jonah cried out to the Lord, God delivered him quickly: “The Lord spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land” (verse 10). God told the whale, “That’s enough! Now, spit him out. My servant has called out to me, and I'm going to answer him.”