Understanding Jonah

Jonah was a ridiculous man.

Granted, he was an appointed prophet of God. He, most likely, was a true believer in God. He demonstrates God’s incomprehensible desire to work miracles through sinful human beings.

But he was ridiculous.

Remember when he not only ran from God — an impossible feat — but stormed furiously out of a town that God graciously, mercifully, wonderfully, amazingly transformed from evil, wicked, hell-bound sinners to joyous, repentant, humble, redeemed sinners?

Remember when Jonah was so eager for Nineveh’s demise that he set up camp a little ways off and waited for the sonic boom?

Remember when, even though he was being the most smug little brat ever, God promptly, in His sovereignty, grew a plant to shade Jonah’s head from sun and wind burn?

Remember when he was exceedingly happy about the plant?

Remember when God sent a little bug to eat said plant and destroy it, and then conducted the wind to blow it away, shooing all of Jonah’s makeshift shelter and temporary happiness away with it?

Remember when Jonah threw a legitimate tantrum, wailing that it was better for him to die than endure such horrible circumstances?

And God simply reprimanded Jonah’s ridiculousness, reminding him of His greatness and His grace, a note on which Jonah decides to end his brief account.

How silly, we smirk. What a fickle, ridiculous human. Is he even a believer? He couldn’t be… how on earth could a true believer behave like that to the God of the universe, the absolute Sovereign God? I wouldn’t dare…

My fellow Christians. I have been such a Jonah.

God calls me to a life I never expected, a life for which I hadn’t planned.

I didn’t dream of being infertile when Mister and I were dating.

I didn’t anticipate searching for property in Pennsylvania while moving to Youngstown for the mission of the gospel.

I didn’t craft and complete my education around the possibility of never being able to work in technical writing again.

And perhaps, at the time, I was a little bitter about it. But the women on my mother’s mother’s side of the family carry a similar trait: stoicism. We glance sideways at incoming emotions and make the quick decision to absorb them and deal with them later.

Ain’t nobody got time for emotions.

So I ran the opposite direction. Because to face the situation head-on would be to acknowledge and praise God’s goodness and grace.

I went about my business obediently, as Jonah did in chapter 2 and the beginning of chapter 3. I figured the cheerful attitude would follow eventually.

But first, the bitter tears and tantrums.

Perhaps I held out hope that ignoring the revelations in my life would rewind the clock or magically reverse the effects. Perhaps, if I just ignored the fact that I’m not getting what I want, I’ll get what I want in the end. Perhaps it’s just a test. Perhaps, actually, this month I’ll get pregnant. Perhaps, then, we won’t have to leave this house. Perhaps, this interview will turn into a technical writing job. Perhaps all the problems would go up in flames, like Jonah hoped Nineveh would.

But no. This month was just a fluke in the cycle, probably a product of stress. This house is still 4 bedrooms too big for two people and in a city without a church plant. This interview makes no difference at all because the office closed two days afterwards.

Perhaps the weight of putting all my hope in temporary thises is what shoved me face-first into mud and dragged me along by my ankles. But, for several days, to my own dismay, I heard my soul’s clamor harmonize with Jonah:

When the sun came up God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on Jonah’s head so that he became faint and begged with all his soul to die, saying, “Death is better to me than life.”


And, until last night, I didn’t realize just how ridiculous.

Because last night, God asked me through my study of Jonah 4, “Do you have reason to be angry?”

Do you have reason to be angry about not having children?

Do you have reason to be angry about leaving this beautiful home?

Do you have reason to be angry about my dispersing your Youngstown church family?

Do you have reason to be angry about not having a job for which you studied and want so desperately?

Do you have reason to be angry about all your plans, hopes, dreams falling through at My almighty hand?

Do you have reason to be angry for losing the temporary “blessings” of this world in light of My goodness, in which you live, and My grace, by which you are saved?

No, I do not.

What a gracious God I serve. Praise the Lord who patiently deals with all of His Jonahs in love and mercy.


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