Friday, October 12, 2012
Our God is a big God with a view of our lives and our world that is not bound by time. We are often a people of details, focusing and obsessing over a very small segment of an eternal journey.
Nineveh was a wicked, Godless city and Jonah was a know-it-all reluctant servant of God. I think if you grew up in the church you probably remember Jonah. He did not want to do what God asked him to do and so he ran from God. He set sail headed in the opposite direction of where God called him to go. A terrible wind storm came up and Jonah was eventually thrown overboard. He was subsequently swallowed by a large fish and lived in the fish's belly for 3 days and 3 nights. He thanked God for hearing his cries for help as he was drowning and agreed to go to Nineveh and tell them that their destruction was at hand. The people and their king believed what Jonah said and took it seriously. They fasted and repented and God showed that great City mercy and did not destroy it. This brings us to our verse of the day:
"He (Jonah) prayed to the Lord and said, 'Please Lord, was not this what I said while I was still in my own country? Therefore in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in loving kindness, and one who relents concerning calamity.'" Jonah 4:2 NASV
Jonah is basically telling God "I told you so. I knew that you wouldn't wipe out Nineveh and that's why I didn't want to get involved in the first place." He's mad. A city of 120,000 people has been saved and Jonah is pouting because he doesn't like the way God went about it. Maybe he didn't like the effort required of him, maybe he didn't want to see those people saved. Regardless of his reason, I think the lesson here is that a person tends to see what they want to see—and often it is the details or has something to do with the process, rather than the big picture or the greater good.
Let's face it, as human beings we tend to be small minded. God goes so far as to tell us that his ways are higher than our ways and his thoughts higher than our thoughts (Isaiah 55:9). Who are we to know the mind of God? But on a more practical, daily level we do this in our relationships with others. We get stuck on some facet of a person's behavior that annoys us and forget all the great things that we love about that person.
If you continue reading, you will see that God's response is very interesting: God asks Jonah, "Do you have a good reason to be angry?" I think this is a great question to ask ourselves when we're angry. Stepping away from the situation and looking at it without judgment can often give us a new perspective. There may be some small behavioral habits my husband has that if I focused on could drive me nuts and make me spiteful, resentful, or worse. But then I think about what a great guy he is: how honest and caring he is, how he always knows the right thing to do in almost any situation, how he loves and cares for our kids and the life we have together. And those little things are just idiosyncrasies. He's not trying to drive me crazy by leaving Kleenex in his pockets when I do the laundry. He just forgets.
No, God, I do not have a good reason to be angry.
Questions for Reflection:
- Can you think of other bible stories where people lost sight of the big picture and suffered for it?
- What do you think God's "big picture" looks like?
Heavenly Father, I am so thankful and so comforted knowing that you see the "big picture." Forgive me when I get caught up in details that are irrelevant to your kingdom. Bless my relationships with others and help me to focus on their unique gifts. Help me when I get mad to hear you asking me if I have a good reason to be angry; and please send your Holy Spirit to help me be honest in my answer. I pray that your will be done in all things. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.