When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed his mind about the calamity that he had said he would bring upon them; and he did not do it. But this was very displeasing to Jonah, and he became angry. He prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord! Is not this what I said while I was still in my own country? That is why I fled to Tarshish at the beginning; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and ready to relent from punishing. And now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” And the Lord said, “Is it right for you to be angry?” Then Jonah went out of the city and sat down east of the city, and made a booth for himself there. He sat under it in the shade, waiting to see what would become of the city. The Lord God appointed a bush, and made it come up over Jonah, to give shade over his head, to save him from his discomfort; so Jonah was very happy about the bush. But when dawn came up the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the bush, so that it withered. When the sun rose, God prepared a sultry east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint and asked that he might die. He said, “It is better for me to die than to live.” But God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the bush?” And he said, “Yes, angry enough to die.” Then the Lord said, “You are concerned about the bush, for which you did not labor and which you did not grow; it came into being in a night and perished in a night. And should I not be concerned about Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also many animals?”
Food For Thought:
The story of Jonah has always been one of my favorite stories in the Bible. Jonah is a stubborn man and he wants God to destroy the city of Nineveh (his enemies). God tells Jonah to go and preach to that city and save them from their wicked ways. Jonah flees from God. A big fish (according to the Hebrew) swallows Jonah up and he spends time in the belly of a fish. After that, the fish spits him up onto dry ground, and I’m sure after a good bath (wink wink) he goes to preach to his enemies. I love this story because it is a powerful story of a man fleeing from God and a whole city redeemed in the process. When I read this story, I always think about how we flee from God. We know all too often what God is calling us to do in a particular situation and we run the exact opposite way. That was my call into ministry story. That happens to me on an all too often basis. I know what God wants me to do but I get scared, I get lazy, I get nervous of change, and I don’t step up like I should. Think of a time in your life that you have run from God. Think about a time in your life that you have turned back and responded to God’s call upon your life. How did it feel? Sometimes the greatest moments in our lives are when we push through the fear and take the risk that we need to take. That is at the heart of the Christian message.
God, you are the God of wanderers. Help us to remember that you go before us as beacon and guide. Lead us through all danger, sustain us through all desolation, and bring us home to the land you have prepared for us. In your precious name we pray, Amen.