Journal Jonah 4 (all references are from the ESV; changes in punctuation are mine)
Scripture: “But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry.
And (Jonah) prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster.
Therefore, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live…” Jonah 4:1-3
Observation: Even prophets can be dramatic: “And the academy award for best posturing after preaching repentance, goes to………Jonah!!” (applause, applause)
Analysis: Sometimes I can read the Bible and come away with a snicker, or maybe an outright belly laugh.
Short story: “Jonah, go to Nineveh and preach.”
“No way, those folks are bad, bad. If you are going to strike them down, good!! I don’t want to warn them. Because You are Whom You are, You probably would give them Mercy.”
“Jonah, go to Nineveh and preach!”
“NO” and into the belly of a fish he goes.
Jonah relents, the fish spits him out and Jonah calls out for repentance. Nineveh repents and turns to God for mercy.
And then Jonah cops an attitude: “I KNEW you were going to do that, that is why I ran away…” And then Jonah whines, he dramatically throws his arm against his forehead and wails: “Please kill me right here, I can’t stand the pain, the inequity, the injustice…” It is better for me to die than to live” …”
Confession: I have toyed with the idea that “so and so” probably deserves God’s wrath. Jeffery Epstein, anyone? Perhaps Jonah had the conviction that Nineveh was a city of Epstein’s. Jonah, in that case, made Judgment on Nineveh even though he recognized that God abounds in patience: “Slow to anger, abounds in lovingkindness and steadfast love…”
I have encountered many Christians (including the Face in the Mirror) that condone the effects of observed “natural” disasters and call it deserved…for the “obvious sin.” What is not my first thought is perhaps this is the lovingkindness of God and they will turn in repentance. No, my first thought is “deserved.”
I need to change my mind about this; I need to have a different reflexive mindset. For this attitude goes from countries, to cities, to the guy next door. How about beggars on the street corners—drug users, drunks, begging for the next pack of smokes?
Practicing Jonah’s attitude is not practicing the Lovingkindness of God.
Prayer: Lord, you see how I struggle with this. I am fighting this with being prepared to give to those on the street corners—and not trying to evaluate on my own reasoning but obeying your Word and focusing on your Whisper.
If I evaluate too hard, I start thinking about who deserves your Gospel—and that is not my job, my prerogative. My goal is the Good Samaritan example and that without fear and judgment/condemnation.