“But it greatly displeased Jonah and he became angry.” (Jonah 4:1 NASB)
Message delivered, people repent. Jonah is beyond upset that God didn’t destroy them.
His anger shocks and surprises us, but should it? Jonah is brutally honest about how he feels. But before we condemn him out of hand we have to admit there are shadows of his attitude in our own hearts.
We cover up our displeasure. Pretend things don’t bother us. But the reality is different.
We think we have a corner on God’s kindness. When we see him show grace to a stranger, someone who doesn’t have a history with God, we feel a little put out. After all, we have spent a good part of our lives serving him, following him. It isn’t fair that this person, new to the faith, is having prayers answered when mine go unanswered.
If I experience broken families, sickness and death of loved ones, prodigal children, job loss, why do they get the good husband, healthy obedient children, good job, nice house . . . and the list goes on.
We equate things with God’s approval. So if someone has more things or better things than we have we are under the mistaken impression that he doesn’t love us as much. Thus the pouting begins. It becomes even more of a sore spot if God shows grace to our enemy.
We find ourselves saying, “If God really loved me he would punish my enemies not bless them. …and bitterness creeps In.
Here is where Jonah’s story gets interesting. God uses a plant to give Jonah shade. Jonah is thrilled. (“extremely happy” Jonah 4:6 NASB) God sends a worm to eat the plant and it withers.
God sends the sun and scorching east wind to beat down on Jonah’s head. Jonah becomes suicidal.
“he became faint and begged with all his soul to die, saying, ‘Death is better to me than life’.” (Jonah 4:8 NASB)
Why the plant? Why the worm? Why the sun and east wind? Because God loved Jonah enough to try and explain His heart to him. God had a great love for the people of Nineveh.
Jonah wasn’t listening so God laid out an object lesson. “Jonah, you fell in love with the plant that had only been with you for one day. If you felt such strong love for the plant shouldn’t I love these people who I have made?”
God doesn’t delight to destroy, he delights to redeem. He desperately wants Jonah to understand His character.
God doesn’t tell us the rest of the story. Jonah’s response isn’t recorded in scripture. But I hear God asking me the same question he asked Jonah. For He is ever reaching out to me. Trying to teach me things my hard heart is too stubborn to see. And in his pursuit of others He often invites me (or you) to be part of the process.