Jonah, a prophet of Israel was appointed by God to announce the His judgment on the people of Nineveh. Full of an idolatrous zeal for his country, and a prejudice against the Assyrian people, he fled from the Lord and boarded a ship to Tarshish. Though he tried his best, God's grace didn't let Jonah get too far.
While on the ship to Tarshish, God sent a violent storm that about destroyed the ship. The captain himself had to wake Jonah up(he was sleeping at the bottom of the ship), and tell him to pray to his God to spare their lives. The sailors then cast lots to find which one of the men's gods caused the storm; they fell on Jonah. They asked what terrible thing he had done to deserve such a storm. In verse 9 he replies:
“I am a Hebrew, and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.”
This wasn't comforting to the sailors as Jonah already told them he had been fleeing the Lord. Jonah then tells them that to stop the storm, they must throw him overboard. But the sailors didn't want to kill him, so they rowed harder. Eventually they prayed that they wouldn't be held accountable for Jonah's death, and threw him into the sea. Immediately, the storm stopped and the Lord prepared a great fish(not a whale) to swallow Jonah.
Jonah tried to ignore the storm
While he was already on a path of destruction, Jonah continued to ignore the situation by sleeping in the bottom of the ship. He kept himself in isolation, where he was comfortable. While the other men were lightening the load of the ship and praying out to their pagan God's, Jonah was asleep. While the sailors had grace on Jonah, when they tried everything they could before throwing him off the ship, he would not show grace to the Assyrians.
God sent the storm to direct Jonah back to Nineveh
The storm wasn't sent to punish Jonah like the sailors believed, it was God's tool to move him off the path to Tarshish, and on the way to Nineveh. God uses storms in our lives as well. It could be the death of a loved one, losing a home, sudden change or a difficult situation. He uses these events to direct us onto the path of His will by correcting our behaviors, protecting us from something we may not even be aware of, or to help us learn to rely on Him.
The sailors recognized God
At first the sailors tried to take care of the storm themselves. They probably prepared the ship for inclement weather as always, but as the storm became worse, they began to shout out to their pagan gods in desperation. But when the sailors saw that the storm stopped immediately after Jonah was thrown overboard, they offered the Lord a sacrifice and vowed their lives to serve him. In this, they found faith in God! They saw his power and gained reverence for Him through the storm.
Looking at the big picture, Jonah actually needed the storm to direct him. God sent it as a way to guide him in the right direction, not to punish him! God uses storms in our life to direct us onto the path of His will. Are we going to ignore his presence, or will we recognize Him as He moves in our life?