I’ve got to admit it: I’m in love with the book of Jonah! As my 8 week study on this short little book full of wisdom comes to and end I find myself missing him already. I see so much of myself in Jonah: trying to run form God’s plan for my life, saying I love everyone but not truly meaning it, getting upset when things go well for someone I don’t like, etc. A lot of times when you read a book it ends with a nice little bow. Everything is cleared up, the main character learns his lesson, and they all live happily ever after: the end! Sadly, that is not the way life works. So it makes me glad that the book of Jonah doesn’t end that way either!
So by the end of the book, Jonah has seen God do amazing things. He has saved not only Jonah from a huge storm (literally) and saved the sailors on board (spiritually), but He saw God show kindness and compassion on an entire city that repented of it’s sinful ways. You would think Jonah would be bursting at the seems with love for his God, but you would be wrong. Jonah is pissed! Pissed that God saved these people He said He would destroy. Pissed that he had to come all this way and go through all he went through. So he did what any grown adult would do: he went outside the city limits to pout.
God could have been DONE with Jonah. He could have just cut him off or given him his wish of just being killed. But what did our ever loving and patient God do? He appointed a plant to grow and give Jonah shade. God gives us opportunity after opportunity to get right with Him and see the err of our ways. Jonah enjoys the shade of the plant, but he is also watching Ninevah in hopes that they screw up. So God needs to continue to teach Jonah and mold his heart. So he sends in our little friend the worm! This little worm slithers right over and chews through the stem of the plant causing it to fall over and die. As you can guess, Jonah did not take that very well!
I love the symbolism of something so tiny being able to ruin our lives if we let it. I think we can all relate to that on some level! God uses this to humble Jonah. Jonah is so mad at God for killing this plant that was giving him shade. God reminds Jonah that the plant was here and gone in a day and that Jonah himself had nothing to do with growing it yet it made him angry to lose it? But Jonah was totes ok with an entire city being destroyed? Ouch, right in the heart! We can be selfish like this at times as well and not even realize it. We think if things are going bad for us personally then it is just the worst thing in the entire world and we tend to forget the suffering of others. Not that it is some kind of sick contest, but just to remember that we are not the only people here and the only people hurting.
What can we take from this? What can we take from an entire book about a man of God who never really gets it time after time?
*God has infinite love and patience for us
*God gives us plenty of time to find our way to Him
*We should never be so confident as to think that because we are Christians that we know it all and are always right
*God uses our missteps to bring us as well as others to Him
*Our theology can be right on, but that doesn’t mean our heart is in the right place
I am SO glad I got the chance to study the book of Jonah. I had no idea there was so much crammed into those four little chapters and that is is so much more than just a story about a whale!