There’s a strange misconception about rock-bottom moments. Some claim it’s a sort of pitfall we stumble upon. But if we’re brutally honest, our “rock-bottom” can either be God-allowed or a consequence of our own making. Either way, the sensations of being at that depth are universal — feelings of sheer desperation, overwhelming fear, intense regret, and haunting loneliness.

Consider the tale of Jonah, a tale familiar to many of us. He found himself literally in the deep end, swallowed whole. “Now the Lord provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.” — Jonah 1:17 (NIV). Kind of like being surrounded by the massive presence of a ‘butanding’ or whale shark, but much more confined and, let’s face it, a tad more dramatic.

You can be honest with God

If you’re picturing darkness, the sound of your own heartbeat, and the cold embrace of the innards of a colossal creature, you’re not far off. But here’s where the plot thickens. “From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God…” — Jonah 2:1 (NIV). No beating around the bush, Jonah was straight-up with God. He lamented, debated, complained — basically the raw, unfiltered conversation one has when they feel their reality sinking in. (Pun surprisingly unintended.)

Drowning in his own thoughts, he voiced his turmoil: “You hurled me into the depths… I said, ‘I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple.’ The engulfing waters threatened me… To the roots of the mountains I sank down…” — Jonah 2:1,3–6. See, here’s the thing. Even in his lament, even in his frustration and feelings of abandonment, there’s a glimmer of hope. And it’s not the saccharine sentiment of “Love will keep us alive.” No, it’s much stronger. It’s hope. Our true north, our lifeline is in placing our hope in the Lord our God.

Framework to getting out of Rock-bottom

Ironically, rock-bottom, as suffocating as it might feel, becomes the place of utmost clarity, the place of God’s profound presence. When we’re there, our framework to elevate ourselves revolves around three potent steps:

  1. Passionate Prayer: A deep, heartfelt conversation with God. No masks. No pretenses. Just raw, unfiltered emotions.
  2. Reality-check: Taking a moment to reflect on where we are, how we got there, and recognizing God’s omnipresence in our lives.
  3. Hopeful Surrender: Acknowledging that we might not have all the answers, but our faith and hope in God will guide us through.

It’s almost poetic how Jonah’s story unfolds: “So the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah up onto the dry land.” — Jonah 2:10. And herein lies the beautiful truth — God’s grace is embedded in the second chances we get, in our ability to rise from our depths, and in our renewed faith that shines brighter than before.

In our lives, we’ll encounter our own version of “rock-bottom,” but may we always remember Jonah’s journey. A journey from despair to hope, from isolation to divine connection. For in our most vulnerable moments, in our utmost despair, God is listening, always ready to give us another shot at life.