We can shake our head at Jonah’s response, but then we should probably look at the mirror. We, too, have had times in our life when we have been angry at God for one reason or another. Have we, like Jonah, ever been angry at God because of God’s mercy and grace?
Jonah seemed appalled that God changed his mind. Was it because now Jonah looked “bad” for delivering a false message? Nobody wants to look stupid, especially when doing work for God. I suppose that’s why a lot of believers keep their mouths shut because they don’t want to say the wrong thing or look unprepared when spreading the gospel. In reality, I’m sure the people of Nineveh were delighted that God had given them a reprieve. They didn’t give the messenger another thought.
The message from God which Jonah shared with the people of Nineveh spurred them into action. We read about that in our last reading. Because God showed mercy, all those evil people whom Jonah despised were saved and not destroyed. Jonah was beside himself and didn’t know what else to do but lash out. This story is surely giving us a good example of a “holy tantrum.”
I’m sure we can all relate to what it feels like to be frustrated by what we perceive as unfairness. It’s good for us to remember God’s purposes are so much greater than we can imagine. It’s not always about “us.” When we’re stuck in a unpleasant situation, we should also be ready to accept that we may never know God’s purpose for what we’re going through. We trust. Remember, God cares not only for his people, Israel, but even for their enemies.
Think about what the world would look like if God never showed us his mercy and grace? What if he left us stuck in our sin? It’s not up to us to decide who receives God’s mercy. Apparently, Jonah didn’t understand that. I even feel sorry for the plant God gave him.
Maybe Jonah didn’t recognize the plant as a gift from God. If that’s the case, is it just a likely that we miss out on seeing some of the gifts God puts in our path? Do we take things for granted and not give God the honor he is due?
Let’s pray. Lord, thank you for the many messages this parable from Jonah gives me. Forgive me for the times when I have been angry with you or doubted you when something bad happened. You are a loving God that provides for us, even when we aren’t paying attention. Thank you for all that you have done for me that I didn’t give you credit for. I love what your mercy and grace does for me and for those who accept it. In Jesus’ name. Amen.