1) But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry.
2) He prayed to the Lord, "O Lord, is this not what I said when I ws still at home? That is why I ws so quick to flee 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.
3) Now, O Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live."
4) But the Lord replied, "Have you any right to be angry?"
5) Jonah went 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.
6) Then the Lord God provided a vine and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the vine.
7) But at dawn the next day, God provided a worm, which chewed the vine so that it withered.
8) 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."
9) But God said to Jonah, "Do you have a right to be angry about the vine?" "I do," he said, "I am angry enough to die."
10) But the Lord said, "You have been concerned about the vine, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight.
11) But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?"
So here I am at the end of the book of Jonah, and Jonah is really no different in attitude than at the beginning of the book; in fact, he's probably worse. What a parallel to many lives of Christians today. We wander away from the Lord, have a huge trial that brings us back to the Lord, we stay there, obedient for a while, then we drift back to our old ways. Yes, there's a lot of modern day Jonahs, unfortunately.
But why? Why did Jonah so desperately want the Ninevites to suffer God's judgment? Besides their obvious wickedness, I think there's two things, right off the bat. First, Jonah, like many other Jews, didn't want God's mercy to be given to the non Jews. He felt they weren't worthy to be saved from punishment. But my God is a God of Grace and Mercy. In reality, no one deserve what God has to offer, but He gives it freely to anyone who wants it.
Second, Jonah definitely had some pride issues going on. He knew if he went and preached repentance, God just might actually save those Ninevites, leaving him with egg on face (verse 2). He would rather die than have this seemingly public humility.
The question has to be asked. Am I ever like Jonah? In the respect that I don't want evil people to come to the Lord, I can't say I am. No, but in the respect of pride, yeah, that's an area of concern sometimes. I want my way, and I want to be right. It's human nature, right? Actually, it's my sinful nature.
When I was first married, I learned about this thing called "The Emotional Cup." When you have unresolved issues in your life and interpersonal relationships, eventually they build up. Everyone's emotional cup is only so big, and when you add just one more drop of anything to it, it starts to overflow. It overflows with anger, hatred, irrational behavior, and other sins or unhealthy thoughts. Jonah had a lot of unresolved issues, don't you think? Yes, his emotional cup was overflowing in Chapter four. He had not yet reconciled that his God wanted to save his enemy. Sure, he preached to the Ninevites like he was supposed to, but subliminally, he was probably trying to tell them to not believe his Message. He had just lived through a miraculous ordeal in the belly of the great fish, but it didn't take long for him to have short-term amnesia. Yes, Jonah's emotional cup was overflowing because he hadn't dealt with the underlying issues of sin.
Jonah plopped himself up on the hill and sat with disgust to watch the scene unfold. He hoped God would really destroy the city, but I think he knew in his heart that was not going to happen. God could have destroyed Jonah for his attitude, but he didn't. He provided a vine to grow and give him shelter from the sun and heat. Yet, when God provided a worm and the scorching sun, Jonah was so bitter he wanted to die. How illogical is that? Jonah didn't plant the vine, it wasn't his. He had no vested interest in it, except to take advantage of it's shade.
How many times do we as Christians sit under the Vine, soak up the shade, and enjoy life as we know it? Life is good, we're not out in the heat. Yet, when the first ripple of heat comes our way, our emotional cup overflows with bitterness, anger, frustration, addiction, and other sins. This concept about an emotional cup is perhaps one of the most practical things I've learned in my adult life. It's human nature to shove things under the rug and not deal with the raw emotion of life's ups and downs. It's easier to walk away from a painful situation than to actually address the underlying issues at hand. And when our cup becomes full, when we add one more drop of anything into our cup, it will overflow. It's unavoidable when you have unresolved issues.
Sometimes dealing with issues hurts like salt in a raw wound. It's not easy, and actually, it can be quite painful! Confrontation doesn't come naturally to most people either, and that's why it's usually avoided. Yet, it's only by going through those hard times of dealing with the facts and resolving them in a Godly way that you can avoid your emotional cup overflowing. I know when I start having anger issues creep back into my life, there's usually something underneath that is causing me to act out in anger. It's the natural bi-product. It was the natural one for Jonah, too. No, it wasn't right, but still, when God isn't on the throne, sin will reign. It was clearly reigning in Jonah's life.
I'm so thankful I serve a merciful God. He answers prayer. He saved me, and I didn't deserve it. He spared the sailors lives when they pleaded for mercy. He rescued Jonah and spared his life when he prayed from inside the great fish. And He saved the entire nation of Nineveh because they repented.
As I wrap up Jonah, I'm reminded that life's circumstances don't always go the way I think they should go, but God is always in control, regardless. I can trust that He knows what is best, even if that contradicts with what I think. For me, I've been praying about something for over a year. In my spirit, I really felt like God was leading in that direction. Doors seemed to be opening, maybe only a small glimmer of light, but still, they weren't closed. But God's plan seems to be moving in another direction, and that's not always easy to deal with. But I don't want to be like Jonah. No, I don't want to be so miserable in my circumstances that I want to die. I don't want to be angry at God because He didn't allow something to happen that I thought should have. How sad that Jonah got to that state of mind. No, for me, TRUST, I MUST. Through the shade of the Vine or through the heat of the Son, He is with me, and I will trust Him.