We all remember the story of Jonah and the fish...but we easily forget about Jonah and the worm.
Today I shipped orders while listening to a speech given by a man whom many believed didn’t honestly earn the privilege of being there.
And I felt...angry. And hurt. And betrayed.
I was angry that an administration bent on aborting babies, destroying families, and redefining Truth, was handed the reigns to do just that.
I felt betrayed by the censorship and deception being used to manipulate the American people, and that there was no lightning bolt revelation of truth and justice.
I stewed on this for most of the day. I held on to my righteous anger with all the zeal I could muster.
Until it hit me…
I’m just like Jonah. (Well, I haven’t spent three days in the belly of a fish. But I did have fish for dinner, so…I smell a bit like him anyway.)
And, like Jonah, deep down….I didn’t want them to be shown mercy and grace.
I just wanted justice and truth.
And I was seriously ticked that it didn’t happen that way.
More than that, I’m ashamed to admit…I would have rather seen justice served than see repentant hearts turned to Jesus...saved by Grace.
“When Jonah’s warning reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. This is the proclamation he issued in Nineveh:
“By the decree of the king and his nobles:
Do not let people or animals, herds or flocks, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. But let people and animals be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.”
When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.
But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry. He prayed to the Lord, “Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.”
But the Lord replied, “Is it right for you to be angry?”
Jonah had gone out and sat down at a place east of the city. There he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city. Then the Lord God provided a leafy plant and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the plant. But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the plant so that it withered. When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah’s head so that he grew faint. He wanted to die, and said, “It would be better for me to die than to live.”
But God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?”
“It is,” he said. “And I’m so angry I wish I were dead.”
But the Lord said, “You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?”
Corrie Ten Boom once spoke to a crowd about the love of God. Afterward, one of the most evil guards in the concentration camp came up to her and asked for her forgiveness, because, he said, if she could forgive him for what he had done, then surely God could forgive him too.
Perhaps we will never be called on to preach the Word to the city of Ninevah or forgive our evil captors, but we all have a choice to make today.
Yes, our beloved beautiful plant may have a worm chewing at its stalk.
Yes, our plant might wither and die.
And yes, it may get scorching hot and miserable.
But, like Jonah, we can choose to be angry and bitter about something we had no control of….
Or we can choose to pray.
And not lose hope.
Because when it comes right down to it, we’re no better than the Ninevites.
We’ve ALL sinned and fallen short of what God wants for our lives.
Thankfully, we all have a Lord that loves us more than we deserve.
“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. ... Bear in mind that our Lord's patience means salvation…”
2 Peter 3
The question is, do we really love our brother enough that we would be willing to sacrifice our rights, our freedom, our comfort…if that’s what it takes to bring them to Christ?
The light always shines brightest in the dark of night.