Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Why are You Mad?

Imagine Jonah, running out of town, sitting under a tent, waiting on God to respond to his complaints.  How could God have asked him to run through the city of Nineveh, telling people that their city was going to be destroyed, and then forgive them and save them once they had repented?  What was God thinking? Jonah wondered.

And furthermore, while he was sitting under that tent, steaming about the situation, God sent a big leafy plant to give him shade, which made Jonah very happy because it gave him relief from the sun.  What made Jonah not so happy was the worm that God sent in the morning which attacked that nice plant and caused it to wither.

Boy was Jonah mad.  "Kill me now" he seemed to be saying, as he told God he would be better off dead than alive.

As I was reading all of this in the last chapter of the Book of Jonah (read it in the Old Testament--the entire book is only two pages long), I started thinking about that nice, leafy gourd plant.

How many times in our own lives, has God provided for us, and we complained?  How many times  have we been ungrateful, thinking we were somehow owed what we have been given?  

Do we realize that everything we have--that we imagine is simply the result of our hard work--is actually a consequence of God's love for us?  And when we don't have all that we want, do we think God is mad at us, or unfair?

Sometimes we are comfortable.  Sometimes we struggle.  But the clear message in the Book of Jonah is that God is not a distant God, but a loving and merciful God.  God saved the people of the city of Nineveh for their repentance.  Jonah lost his shade as he sat there mad and unrepentant.

In the end, God asked Jonah, "Have you reason to be angry over the plant?"  

Here's the final lesson for Jonah, and for us today:

"The Lord said, 'You are concerned over the plant which cost you no labor and which you did not raise; it came up in one night and in one night it perished . . ."

What is the gourd plant in your life, that "cost you no labor," that is pure gift, for which you should be grateful?

Janet Cassidy


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