Lent 2017: Week 6
Thoughts from Jonah
The people of Nineveh believed God and repented. When Jonah realized that God’s judgement against his enemies was stayed, he became tremendously angry. As he camped outside the city he was so eaten up by fury he wanted to die. To add insult to injury he was being scorched by the heat. We are told God caused a “gourd” - more than likely a bean plant, to grow up overnight. This bean plant could have grown up to 10 feet tall. Jonah was tremendously comforted, but this was short-lived. God prepared a worm that so damaged the plant it withered.
And then God spoke with Jonah:
“Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?” And he said, “It is right for me to be angry, even to death!”
But the Lord said, “You have had pity on the plant for which you have not labored, nor made it grow, which came up in a night and perished in a night. And should I not pity Nineveh?” Jonah 4:9,10
Although Jonah preached a message of repentance in Nineveh, he nursed a heart of judgment against his hearers. I wonder how much today’s church is like Jonah? We preach a message of grace and forgiveness, but hold mountains of judgment in our hearts? When God works in ways we don’t understand, let alone like, we become angry. How much anger against God do we nurse because the circumstances of our lives (bean plants and worms) aren’t to our liking?
Let’s be honest with ourselves as we prepare our hearts in this journey to Easter. There are things hidden in our hearts that need to be dealt with, once and for all. We judge others, but excuse ourselves. We rail against God because of our circumstances. Can we relinquish our judgements and anger? Can we come to rest and trust God more fully?
Rest is a relinquishing – a letting go of human self-assertion and sufficiency, in order to trust God more fully. It’s a form of letting go of human control.
“In returning and rest you shall be saved, in quietness and confidence shall be your strength. But you would not.” Isaiah 30:15.
Create in me a clean heart o God and renew a right spirit within me.
“The Lord is merciful and gracious,
Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.” Psalm 103:8
I release all critical judgements of others.
I relinquish my anger, frustration and bitterness.
I will trust God more fully.