“Bitterness and Finishing strong”

Jonah 4

“But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry. And he prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster. Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” And the Lord said, “Do you do well to be angry?”

“Jonah went out of the city and sat to the east of the city and made a booth for himself there. He sat under it in the shade, till he should see what would become of the city. Now the Lord God appointed a plant and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be a shade over his head, to save him from his discomfort. So Jonah was exceedingly glad because of the plant. But when dawn came up the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the plant, so that it withered. When the sun rose, God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint. And he asked that he might die and said, “It is better for me to die than to live.” But God said to Jonah, “Do you do well to be angry for the plant?” And he said, “Yes, I do well to be angry, angry enough to die.” And the Lord said, “You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?”

Many of the people in the Bible serve as examples for us. But some of those are bad examples – how NOT to live. When we run our race, how we finish is even more important than how we begin. We could have overlooked Jonah’s hesitancy at the beginning of his story because part of our story is how we grow along the way. And Jonah did take a turn for the better, but it was short-lived, and once again, he ended his mission on a low note. The trip was a success, the nation of Ninevah repented and God was pleased. But Jonah, not so much. He responded with a full-out tantrum. 

Jonah was bitter that God would display the same mercy for the Ninevites that he had earlier needed himself. And it’s because of his childish attitude that the book of Jonah has one of the most unfulfilling endings of any story. History is littered with lives that started well but fizzled out. Run your race with obedience, mercy, and a heavenly perspective. But in your race, allow God to correct you, teach you and grow you so that you can finish strong.  
While using the HEAR method (see below) consider the following questions: 
  • How is your story progressing? Where is God growing you and where do you still need to “grow up?”
  • When have you found yourself missing the point and getting angry about the wrong thing? Why do you think this happens to us? 
Highlight – what words or phrases jump out at you? 
Explain – what does the passage mean? 
Apply – how does the passage intersect with your life today? 
Respond – how is God leading you to respond?
Jon Price, Associate Pastor

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