We have been studying Jonah in our small groups. It’s been interesting. The way we are studying it has been making it more personal to me. We go over the chapter and then go over it again and then the leader asks questions about it and how it relates to our life.
So, this week we went over Jonah 4. Jonah had just preached to Nineveh and they believed God and repented. Now, you would think that Jonah would be happy. God just saved an entire nation and used him to do it. Instead, Jonah got mad. Jonah basically says “God, I knew you were going to have compassion on them; that’s why I ran. I knew you were loving and merciful. It makes me so mad, I just want to die.” God replies, “What right do you have to be mad?” Jonah stomps off to a place where he can watch the city to see if God might destroy it yet and builds himself a shelter. Overnight, a vine grew up over his head and provided more shade for him and he was glad for it. Then, the next morning a worm came and ate it so that it died. Jonah got mad again and again says he wants to die. God says, “Do you have any right to be angry over this vine?” Jonah responds, “Of course, I do! I am so mad I could die!” God then asks him how he could be so upset that this vine died that he did nothing to care for and was only here for a day, but want God to kill 120,000 people who don’t know the right ways of God? Then, the book of Jonah ends, leaving you to wonder if Jonah ever got the point and repented himself.
What did I learn? I can see myself a little. I know I’ve have asked God why I was suffering when people who are so far from him and who are fighting against him prosper. I know I have been ugly to people who are far from God and don’t know any better. I think we all have an intolerance for different types of people. And this study, just helped me to be aware of it so that I can try to do better. Plus, God gave Jonah several chances. Jonah got swallowed by a whale and liver to tell about it, but still had issues in his own life. God used him despite his flaws. If God can use one person who ran from him and then dragged his feet to turn a whole city of 120,000 people around, shouldn’t he be able to use 15 willing people to turn Spartanburg upside down!?