Jonah –
the sea is too wide for you to hide;
no waves can cover your footsteps, no ship
can transport you away from His sight.

Do not run.
The burning sun in heat of day
contains as much His perfect way
as when the sky lights up in flame.
And mercy’s found
in broken ground, when palm trees wilt
and tedium
breaks out in rashes on your skin.

Be still.
The ocean bears such grace
as you, in temper, do not know
and grace is found too on dry roads
and Ninevah, where walls hold skulls.
The broken, ordinary day
is violent with His light.

The sign
for passive hearts that crave a sign,
a miracle to shake their minds,
is dormant in the sea’s womb now
yet breaks soon with its truth.

The currents of His day
will take you in. When breakers roar
or water’s still, the same is true
and holds you in its wake.


My Jonah Heart


Recite this catalogue of wrongs:
I loved this tree   –   if you loved me
I always knew    –   I told you so…
And all the while in Ninevah
the people weep in ash.

Uphold your cause; God may forget
the hurts you hold, the wounds you bear.
The tree’s shade is your natural right.
Shake fists; see God reply…

The merciful, the good, the just:
perhaps He lost, amidst the dust
of Ninevah your noble case.
You must bemoan your tree.

Or turn your eyes to kings in ash
and rags. See hearts turn round.
You know His name; you know the truth.
Turn, Jonah, and arise.

To the believers from Mosul

Image: Al Jazeera
Image: Al Jazeera

Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.

            (Hebrews 12:3-4)


We are not surprised by this; we

should not be surprised. This is

how it is, has always been:

what Jonah learnt beneath the palm

when Ninevah was spared and sun

burnt upon his skull


is true today – although it aches.

What mercy poured into those walls –

a city spared, but soon a foe –

is pouring day by day, and yet

it is not always seen by us;

it is not always known.


My comfort drives my knees to pray;

your loss, your anguish angers me.

What right have I to speak of this?

What can I know of Ninevah?

Yet I too have my foes; I hide

from judgment and the sun.


This fiery trial will seize us all;

to some it scalds, yet others sing

with joy to be thought worthy of

the pains of Christ. And so should we

who hide in comfort, sing with you,

long with you for His day.