There are so many wonderful stories of amazing people in the Bible. I always want to have Mary’s adoration with Martha’s work ethic, Daniel’s faith and David’s zealous love for the Lord. Unfortunately, often times, I just seem to be Jonah. Remember him? The prophet who runs from God’s commandment to go to Nineveh and preach against its wickedness and bring about repentance. Instead, he flees the scene, gets swallowed by a whale, gets spat up a few days later and then FINALLY concedes to do the Lord’s will which result in an entire city repenting of their sin and turning to the Lord. That’s the key part of the story that most of us remember. But what we sometimes gloss over is what happened to Jonah after the Ninevites repented of their sin.
The Bible says in Jonah 2:4 “But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry. 2 He prayed to the Lord, “Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing 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. 3 Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.”
Jonah was bitter that the Lord showed compassion for sinners the he believed didn’t deserve God’s grace. This is something I have been struggling with lately. If I were honest, I would say I’ve struggled with this my entire life. I’m a “right” fighter. I want justice in situations and so many times, I fail to calculate God’s unending grace into scenarios. I seem to always want his wrath and judgement for those I feel have “done wrong”, even though I never want that cup of wrath for myself. It’s such a finite view of situations and I’ve been working lately to try and change my mindset. I wish I could say I’m wanting to change so that I can see people through God’s eyes. That would be a really good Christian response, wouldn’t it? But my reasons are a bit more selfish.
You see…when the Book of Jonah ends, we leave our main character in a horrible state. Jonah is bitter and miserable; so much so that he even tells the Lord that he is so angry he wants to die. That, my friend, is no way to live. It is not good for us, it’s not healthy, and God doesn’t want that for us. At the end of the day, we are sinning against Him when we focus on the sins of others and wish wrath upon them. It is exhausting to hate that much. It consumes us and places our focus on the wrong things. It blinds us to see our own blessings and God’s love for us. And it can eventually become a terrible habit that can reshape our walk with the Lord. Ultimately, harboring anger for others gets in the way of our own relationship with the Lord. And God does not want that for His children.
Carrying around that much anger is a terrible burden. One that God has not commanded us to carry.
Love is measured in feathers, while hate is measured in bricks.
You have to decide which one you want to carry. I for one am too tired to continue carrying bricks.
Help us to see your people through the eyes of our Savior. Help us to pour water on the fire of our anger, let go of the situations we can’t change and rely on you to work through us to bring You glory. Help us to understand that you, alone, are God. You know the situations better than us and you are working in the background even when we can’t see Your hand. Help us rejoice in repentance of others and welcome them into your fold without judgement or condemnation. Help us to let go of anger towards those we feel have done wrong. Help us to realize you are in control and Your ways are better. Lord, thank you for all your blessings. We are so grateful. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen