I get Jonah.
God asked him to go to Nineveh to tell them to repent of their wickedness. Jonah promptly arose and went in the opposite direction. Our children's Bible says he asked for a ticket to "Not-Nineveh." I seriously love that. I have to shake my head at Jonah's ridiculousness and nod my head in serious understanding. It makes for some really strange head movements.
Not surprisingly, the boat to Not-Nineveh runs into a huge storm and everyone is in danger. Jonah took responsibility and the sailors threw him overboard. But God arranged for a fish to swallow him.
Jonah is sorry and God has the fish spit him out. God repeats himself: "Go tell Nineveh I am destroying them in 40 days unless they repent."
Jonah goes and the Ninevites actually listen. They all (even the King) changed into mourning clothes, covered themselves with ashes and fasted. They stopped feeding their animals too. They were genuinely sorry. And their animals were genuinely confused. And hungry.
So Jonah, filled with rejoicing, skipped home. Nopes. The Bible says, "This change in plans" (the part where the people are not getting destroyed anymore) "greatly upset Jonah and he became very angry." As a planner, I totally get that.
Jonah takes the news pretty hard. Jonah is mad because he thinks all the bad dudes in this town should get what's coming to them. Now all of the sudden everything is fine?! He goes on to complain, "I knew this would happen. You're so nice. You're so forgiving. Ugh. Kill me now please. I'd rather be dead than watch this."
God's reply: "Is it right for you to be angry about this?"
Jonah stomps off to pout at the edge of the city. But God arranged for a plant to grow and shade him. Since this allowed Jonah to pout much more comfortably, he was thankful. But God arranged for a worm to kill the plant. Then Jonah was back to being angry enough to die.
God's (entirely valid) question: You're mad that a plant died but you're not concerned about the 120,000 humans that were just saved from destruction?
And then the book ends. It's abrupt. It's uncomfortable. Loose ends are not tied up. Resolution is not enjoyed. It just hangs there.
Things I want to remember:
- Is it right for you to be angry about this? In my life, the answer is a resounding, "Probably not." I don't walk around with my hair on fire the WHOLE day but often I am wound up tighter and more frequently than the situation really calls for. Jonah was so glaringly self-centered in his anger here. That's my kind of anger. I don't like being inconvenienced. A recent example: my child in diapers won't poop in a wet diaper. He has standards. Therefore, I change a wet diaper only to change a stink bomb five minutes later. I don't know if it makes me want to die exactly but it sure makes me want to eat some cake.
- God effortlessly arranges nature for His purposes. Pop up a plant here, have a fish swim by at the exact right time there. No big thing. Really, for God details are no. big. thing. I try to arrange my trips to the grocery store and always end up loosing my list somewhere between the house and the store. He is able to arrange certain worms to munch on particular plants. We should let Him be in charge more, yes?
- Sometimes loose ends remain loose. This one makes my blood pressure rise. This sentence is bad for my health. Some things end abruptly. Sometimes I can't see the rest of the story. Being ok with that would serve me well.
So what about you? Is it right for you to be angry about that one thing? Could you let God arrange some things instead of you scrambling for control? What loose ends can you try to (gulp) embrace?