The other day I found myself in Jonah reading near the end of the book, a couple of chapters, I’d never really gave much thought to. I suppose God knew I needed to hear it!
Rarely do we every see a servant of the Lord behaving in such a way, and I am absolutely guilty of feeling an array of these feelings on some occasions in my life.
Jonah was furious and jealous that the Lord had shown mercy and forgiveness to Nineveh instead of Israel; he was jealous for the honor of his country. Israel had refused to repent and be reformed. The Lord gave mercy to Nineveh, taking a path to eventually show them their errors, so that they might be brought into grace. The Lord graciously offered Jonah a justification, even though our Lord need make no clarification in whom He chooses to either spare or persecute for persisting in their rebellion. He convinces Jonah that Nineveh should be spared, because unlike Israel, Nineveh had not known yet the error of their ways. God says, “I do well to be merciful,” and He finds triumph in those whom find His favor.
At the end of the chapter, we find the Lord using even a firm example with Jonah, just as Jesus did with the crowds and the parables. The Lord prepared a plant to cover Jonah’s head in shade. The sun beat down upon Jonah, but he was so grateful for that plant as shelter. But the Lord increased the heat so that the plant withered and died. Jonah was angry, but the Lord responded that Jonah was so angry over the plant withering away, but he had never lifted a hand to tend to the plant, the way the Lord had done with Nineveh. The Lord was invested in Israel, but they refused to turn away from their sinful ways, so He chose to invest His time in Nineveh.
Occasionally I find myself feeling irrational/embarrassing emotions when it comes to the blessings that the Lord has given to my peers. I feel envy and hurt because those same opportunities have not been provided to me. Just as with the plant, the Lord reminds me that I can’t possibly be angry with him for blessing one of my brothers or sisters, and I cannot feel envy if I have not lifted my hand to achieve these things or lifted my heart in prayer.
We must understand that all of the Lord’s ways are just and right, even if we don’t understand them!