It is fun listening to fish stories. Some are obviously exaggerated. I have caught myself extending how long it took me to land a fish. But I have never exaggerated how big the fish wasJ. Last year while up in Canada I wish I had seen the pike that swallowed my lure. Chris was standing up and saw the mammoth fish open it’s mouth and told me that I had one. I had not yet felt it, when suddenly my pole bent over, the line slowly went out and snap, it was over. Chris showed me the size of the mouth with his hands up in the air, and then the length. It wasn’t me exaggerating at the time. I wish I could have seen it! Well, we were in Jonah today, and I love this fish story that is not exaggerated. I hope that you read it today. There are many great truths in it, most of them revealing things about me, but also of the mighty compassion of God. Yes, it is there again, God’s never ending love displayed to undeserving people.
From Jonah’s disobedience, to his cries of despair, to his dragging his feet but still obedient, to his “knowing what is best”, to his anger at God for doing the loving thing, to his anger over a dying vine, to his even wanting to die because of it, I see myself more than I want to. Thankfully, God overshadows my thoughts.
Look at the passage below. Listen to the Word of the Lord:
Jonah’s Anger at the Lord ‘s Compassion
1 But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry. 2 He prayed to the LORD, “O LORD, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee 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, O LORD, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.”
4 But the LORD replied, “Have you any right to be angry?”
5 Jonah went out and sat down at a place east of the city. There he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city. 6 Then the LORD God provided a vine and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the vine. 7 But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the vine so that it withered. 8 When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah’s head so that he grew faint. He wanted to die, and said, “It would be better for me to die than to live.”
9 But God said to Jonah, “Do you have a right to be angry about the vine?”
“I do,” he said. “I am angry enough to die.”
10 But the LORD said, “You have been concerned about this vine, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. 11 But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?”
What is it for us today? Is it the toilet that won’t stop running, the weeds outside, the rising oil prices, the checkbook issues, problems at work, relationship strains, an insensitive spouse, an unruly child? You fill in the problem, whether minor like the toilet or more serious. What is able to bring on our anger, our discontent? Is it worth it? What might be at the basis of it? Jonah was angry enough to die over a dead vine. Was it really just the vine? Or was it something much deeper?
Check out your own reactions today. Look at how you were this week. The things that brought disgust, why did they do that? I pray that we will see things as God does. “But the LORD said, “You have been concerned about this vine, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. 11 But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?”
Look around, let Christ look with your eyes, and may He show you what to be concerned with, what to be angry with, where to show compassion, where to confront, when to step up, who to love, when to be quiet and thankful for what you have in Christ, when to praise Him out loud. Let’s learn from this fish story. What have you learned? Share with us.
Caught in the net of His Love,