Today’s Bible reading 

“This change of plans greatly upset Jonah, and he became very angry. So he complained to the Lord about it: “Didn’t I say before I left home that you would do this, Lord? That is why I ran away to Tarshish! I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. You are eager to turn back from destroying people. Just kill me now, Lord! I’d rather be dead than alive if what I predicted will not happen.”

The Lord replied, “Is it right for you to be angry about this?”

Then Jonah went out to the east side of the city and made a shelter to sit under as he waited to see what would happen to the city. And the Lord God arranged for a leafy plant to grow there, and soon it spread its broad leaves over Jonah’s head, shading him from the sun. This eased his discomfort, and Jonah was very grateful for the plant.

But God also arranged for a worm! The next morning at dawn, the worm ate through the stem of the plant so that it withered away. And as the sun grew hot, God arranged for a scorching east wind to blow on Jonah. The sun beat down on his head until he grew faint and wished to die. “Death is certainly better than living like this!” he exclaimed.

Then God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry because the plant died?” “Yes,” Jonah retorted, “even angry enough to die!” Then the Lord said, “You feel sorry about the plant, though you did nothing to put it there. It came quickly and died quickly. But Nineveh has more than 120,000 people living in spiritual darkness, not to mention all the animals. Shouldn’t I feel sorry for such a great city?”–Jonah 4

More thoughts for meditation

You may have heard of Jonah – a prophet, called to partake in spreading God’s love to people who were in desperate need. He is most famously known for getting swallowed by a fish during a storm while running from God. 

Jonah felt Nineveh deserved God’s judgement (and who knows, maybe they did!), so when God asked him to preach there, he ran the other direction. He knew of God’s great love and mercy, and had a hunch that his enemies would be spared. In the end, God calls him out – Jonah cared more for a plant, which is here one day and gone the next, than for hundreds of thousands of people who needed God.

It’s often hard for us to accept God’s love for our own selves, let alone accept his love and forgiveness for those we don’t like. 

Suggestions for action

Is God calling you to forgive someone that you don’t think deserves it? Maybe they hurt you, or someone else, and all you can hope for is God’s swift justice and judgment to rain upon them.

Remember that God is our good shepherd who leaves the 99 sheep to go find the lost one.

Be open to God’s mercy. Take a step towards forgiving. It doesn’t mean you have to give up your boundaries, it’s more about recognizing the grace God has shown you, and acknowledging that the people you forgive are also made in the image of God. Praise the Lord we have a God of second chances!