Lord of the Seas

I read the Cape Cod Times during breakfast Monday morning, and the story was about a man who got swallowed by a humpback whale on June 11, 2021. He was lobster diving off Herring Cove Beach at 8 A.M. when something like a freight train hammered him and everything went black. He felt himself surging through the water and the muscles of a whale’s mouth squeezing around his body, and he thought he was going to die.

The crewman on deck of their vessel was watching something thrash on the surface of the water, when thirty seconds later, the diver was flung up from the sea like the Prophet Jonah. The whale had spewed him out, and the crewman pulled his friend from the bay before he was rushed to Cape Cod Hospital in Hyannis.

Nineteen miles east of Hyannis and thirty-five miles south of Herring Cove Beach is Chatham, Massachusetts—the elbow of Cape Cod’s arm— where my family was eating biscuits and jam at 8 A.M. on June 11. The cottage was sunny, as the skies over Saquatucket Harbor had cleared since the afternoon before, when we’d taken a whale-watching vessel onto Cape Cod Bay. Thursday on the bay had been overcast, and the wind had pelted us at 10 knots or so. We spotted the dorsal fin of one humpback, then another— just around the bend from Herring Cove Beach and hours before the whale swallowed the man.

As we drove north to Race Point Beach on Friday, Mom read the news off her phone:


“I was completely inside,” the diver told the Cape Cod Times, “it was completely black. I thought to myself, ‘there’s no way I’m getting out of here. I’m done, I’m dead.’”[i] And I imagine Jonah had the same thought when the fish swallowed, and he slid deeper into the heart of sea.

“For you cast me into the deep,

into the heart of the seas,

and the flood surrounded me;

all your waves and your billows

passed over me…

The waters closed in over me to take my life;

the deep surrounded me;

weeds were wrapped about my head

at the roots of the mountains.”

~ Jonah 2:3, 5

We’d driven twenty hours from Missouri, so it seemed wildly ironic that we should be thirty-five miles away when a whale ate a man. According to the Cape Cod Times, it’s wildly ironic for a whale to swallow a human. It’s “so exceedingly rare as to be nonexistent.”[ii]

And yet it does happen.

Jonah proves that even great, swooping fish are within the lordship of a sovereign God. It was God himself who “appointed” the fish, and it was God himself who wrapped Jonah in deep waters, and so there is no place in the universe where we can hide from the Lord of the Seas.

“If I take the wings of the morning

and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,

even there your hand shall lead me

and your right hand shall hold me.”

~ Psalm 139:10

Seawater washed onto Race Point Beach that afternoon. The distant horizon was darkened by a storm, but the sky here was quiet. For five miles, we walked along the edge of the earth, the Atlantic rising and falling at our sides. Seabirds flocked and cried when we neared them. Seals played in the waves. Jonah would have stood dazed on a shoreline like this, looking out to the waters of God’s wrath, then down to the sands of his sovereign grace. Three days in the heart of the sea had taught him something about the Lord “who made the sea and the dry land,” who hurls the wind, who ordains the beasts of the deep, only so that his prophet might wake up humbled on mercy’s shore.

All news information taken from CapeCodTimes.com.

[i] Fraser, Doug. “’I was completely inside’: Lobster diver swallowed by humpback whale off Provincetown.” Cape Cod Times, 11 June, 2021, https://www.capecodtimes.com/story/news/2021/06/11/humpback-whale-catches-michael-packard-lobster-driver-mouth-proviencetown-cape-cod/7653838002/

[ii] Ibid, i

8 thoughts on “Lord of the Seas

  1. Wow, Bethany–beautiful article. You tied together pieces of the Bible I love, but never read together until here. 🙂 It took me a second to realize you were there only hours before…sounds like a memorable trip!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love your description of God’s grace and his wrath side-by-side in the sand and the waves! Thank you for so beautifully reminding me that He is Lord of the Seas… and that He cares about our hearts, even when we’re stubborn and run the other way. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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