Amazing Facts of Faith — Sargasso Sea

If you were to travel east of the beautiful island of Puerto Rico—you’d be out in the middle of the ocean. But you’d also be in the middle of a mystical sea called the Sargasso Sea.

The Sargasso Sea occupies about two thirds of the North Atlantic Ocean, stretching seven hundred miles wide and two thousand miles long. The only “sea” with absolutely no land around it, the Sargasso Sea got its name from a common brown seaweed called Sargassum that floats in 
vast mats in its waters.

Sargassum seaweed is fascinating stuff. The first European to observe it, Christopher Columbus called it “gulf weed.” Some people use it as an herbal remedy. Sargassum seaweed floats in some of the bluest and clearest waters in the world, affording a view two hundred feet down in places—a clear view into a diverse ecosystem.

For years, scientists wondered where the American and Atlantic eels were breeding. They knew adult eels swam down the rivers out into the Atlantic, but they never could find the place where they reproduced. Finally, they discovered it was out in the middle of the Sargasso Sea.

But if you were an ancient sailor, you did not want to get stuck in the Sargasso Sea. When these great sailing vessels would get caught in the vast mats of Sargassum seaweed, they called it “the doldrums.” The seaweed would wrap around the rudder and barnacles would begin to grow on the ship. In this area of baffling winds, they’d make no progress—they’d get stuck. Becoming extremely dispirited, sometimes violence and even insanity would break out among the sailors.

Perhaps you’ve been trapped in the doldrums. You feel like you’re going in circles. Life seems stifling. Friend, the Bible offers good news. There is a way out. The Bible talks about a famous character who became trapped in the doldrums. He even had seaweed wrapped around his head! His name was Jonah. And God gave him a way of escape. In Jonah 2:3–7, we read:

“You cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the floods surrounded me; all Your billows and Your waves passed over me. Then I said, ‘I have been cast out of Your sight; yet I will look again toward Your holy temple.’ The waters surrounded me, even to my soul; the deep closed around me; weeds were wrapped around my head. I went down to the moorings of the mountains; the earth with its bars closed behind me forever; yet You have brought up my life from the pit, O Lord, my God. When my soul fainted within me, I remembered the Lord; and my prayer went up to You, into Your holy temple.”

How did Jonah break out of the doldrums? How did he escape from his discouraging circumstances? He turned to God and prayed. And although he was as far away from God as anybody could be—in the belly of a sea monster in the bottom of the ocean in the dark—God heard his prayer. When the ancient sailors became trapped on the deck of their ship for weeks stuck in the doldrums, discouraged, sometimes they would hold a prayer meeting and pray that God would send a breeze that would set them free and get their boats moving. They turned to God in prayer and often miracles would happen. The wind would flutter in the sails and bring them out of their seaweed prison.

Friend, if you are stuck in the doldrums, caught in a cycle of depression, turn to God in prayer. Trust His Spirit to blow through your soul and set you free. If God can do it for Jonah, if He can do it for the ancient sailors, He can do it for you.

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