my mind has been captivated lately with chapter four of jonah. maybe because it is the part of the story we often don’t hear, or maybe because it just hits too close to home.
as i was rereading it the other day i was struck again how jonah would rather die than witness God’s compassion on the people or suffer uncomfortable circumstances. i actually almost said out loud, “drama queen.” but as i quickly turned to judge this man of God that prayed such a beautiful prayer of repentance in chapter two, the conviction turned on me. i thought, how could one who knew the character of the God he served be so quick to anger or throw in the towel? the Spirit whispered, “you know me, too. why do you get so upset and choose to give up so easily?” as my mind questioned jonah’s lack of compassion, my heart was searching for some shred of the mercy and love my Heavenly Father has for me.
after quite an adventure, jonah agreed to be obedient to God’s call on his life, but he still had some growing to do. jonah may have been a prophet, but he wasn’t God. God took me on quite a journey to plant me in children’s ministry, untrained and fearful. see, i, too know His character yet still question Him and often throw my hands in the air. how much more effective and obedient in ministry would i be if i would drop the drama, quiet the questioning, ax the anger, silence the threats to quit, and simply serve the One that called me? after all, He is God and i am not!
Jonah’s Anger at the LORD’s Compassion
1 But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry. 2 He prayed to the LORD, “O LORD, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. 3Now, O LORD, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.” 4 But the LORD replied, “Have you any right to be angry?”
5 Jonah went out and sat down at a place east of the city. There he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city. 6 Then the LORD God provided a vine and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the vine. 7 But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the vine so that it withered. 8 When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah’s head so that he grew faint. He wanted to die, and said, “It would be better for me to die than to live.”
9 But God said to Jonah, “Do you have a right to be angry about the vine?”
“I do,” he said. “I am angry enough to die.”
10 But the LORD said, “You have been concerned about this vine, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. 11 But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?”