JONAH 4:1-4: “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?”
OBSERVATION: What is my attitude when God’s blesses my enemy? This is the question that Jonah had to answer when Nineveh repented and God showed them mercy. Jonah knew God’s nature. He knew if Nineveh repented God would show them, the enemy of Israel, His great mercy. And when the Lord did just that – Jonah was angry, despondent, and wished that he had died. Isn’t this a strange response?
It really is not so strange. I have experienced this myself many times. I can remember feeling this way after one presidential election when the candidate I had voted for lost by a very slim margin. The person who won represented everything that I was opposed to. I felt like someone had knocked the wind out of my sails. And then, to make matters worse, I felt the prompting of the Lord to begin to pray for this person who had won. Pray for this person? How can I pray for someone who I know is opposed to the things I believe in? I was angry, despondent, and wondered why I had even voted. Sound familiar?
To make it even more relevant, I just experienced this challenge yesterday. In my consulting work I had to deal with a customer that seems to always address a challenge through personal attacks and threats. As I received several angry emails about a current issue we were working through, I felt both my insecurity and anger rise. I was caught in the middle of a situation that I did not cause, but now was bearing the full weight of responsibility for it. As I muddled through this situation I could still feel the anger under the surface this morning as I approached God’s Word. When I read these words from Jonah I sensed the Holy Spirit prompting me – “Pray for these individuals”. Not again, I thought! I would rather be mad instead!
Yet, I am learning to respond to the Holy Spirit’s prompting in my life. Rather than think of all the reasons I was right, I began to ponder all the things that might be causing these individuals to respond in such an angry and threatening manner. As I began to pray for them I sensed a wave of compassion overcome my heart. When the compassion of the Lord begins to fill your heart there is no room anymore for the anger. You begin to see the situation and the individuals through the heart of God. This is the opportunity that each of us has when we face these situations and individuals. Will we respond like Jonah, or will we respond with the heart of God – “…for I knew (know) that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster.”
Lord, forgive me for the times that I react instead of respond. To react is to fall back on my own insecurities and wisdom. To humble myself before You is to respond to the call of Your Grace and Mercy. You always are desiring to extend healing and forgiveness to the repentant heart. May I have Your heart toward all – and especially to those who disagree with and threaten me. Grant me Grace today to walk in this truth.
In Jesus Name!