Good morning! As I finished up reading Jonah, I had some time of reflection over the last two verses, questions, that God asks Jonah for the reader to think on and answer too. God used this passage to tend to my heart. Let me be transparent with you, because #impressingisexhausting: I can be very impatient and show little compassion for others when my attitude and feelings aren’t right or when I’m stressed. Isn’t that horrible? It is. I felt and saw it so clearly in myself this past weekend, even during a joyful time. More about that later.
So, as I finished up Jonah in my ESV devotional bible, I was stuck on the way Jonah ends. I’ve read and heard this story before- Jonah doesn’t want to carry out God’s plan He has for him, tries to flee on a boat, gets swallowed up whole by the big fish, prays and repents, gets spit back out, lands on an island, and carries out God’s initial plan for Jonah to warn the Ninevites that they will be destroyed unless they repent for the evil acts they were committing against God and the Israelites. This is where I just couldn’t move on. Because, the people repent, but Jonah becomes so angry. Angry at God for forgiving these people who for so, so long rejected God and hated him and did things that God hates and hated God’s people. Jonah is so angry as he is camped out under a plant outside Nineveh that God provided for him to lay under in the hot desert. But, then God commands a worm and a wind to destroy the plant that shaded Jonah, bringing him to even more anger. So much anger that he wants to die. The book of Jonah ends with a series of questions from God to Jonah. Here’s what God says in the last two verses of Jonah 4:10-11:
“But God said to Jonah, “Do you do well to be angry for the plant?” And he said, “Yes, I do well to be angry, angry enough to die.” And the Lord said, “You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?”
After reading over these questions and digging a little deeper in my ESV study bible, I began to understand that through these questions, God is trying to show Jonah His deep compassion He has not only for Jonah when God saved him from the deep waters and belly of the fish, but also for others. God has the ability to show compassion to anyone and everyone, and does so all the time. This is a humbling thought, because when I become stressed, nervous, anxious, upset in any form really, my compassion and patience towards others dwindles quickly. I noticed this in myself this past weekend. Collins’ birthday was such a wonderful time, the day was so joyful, but off and on throughout the weekend my attitude was pretty uptight and stressed from all the planning and trying to get everything just right (and I had SO much help from family! Why do I still do that to myself?), that my compassion and patience towards others was not typical, mostly my husband.
I have since apologized to my husband and to God for my attitude I had when my circumstances were uncomfortable, and I am so thankful that I serve a God who’s compassion for His people is unwavering and never lets feelings rule over Him, even when we fail Him again, and again just like Jonah did. Like I did. Like I do. I am humbled that God can reveal our sin deep in our hearts in so many ways, even at a child’s 1st birthday party. I am assured that God isn’t finished with me yet, and as I see my sin in new ways, I know this is a sign of Him transforming me and the Holy Spirit working within me. If you have found yourself failing or falling back into a habit that you’ve tried to quit, don’t give up. Maybe God is bringing you through deep waters like Jonah, that you just wish you didn’t have to endure right now, but there is divine purpose behind it. God is using this for your good and His glory, even if you can’t see it right now. He is transforming you always, closer and closer into His image. Let these words encourage you today friend as I preach them to myself, knowing that God is working in and through you, even when it doesn’t “feel” good at the time.