“How is it that you can change your feelings from pleasure to anger overnight about a mere shade tree you did nothing to get?” Jonah 4:10
The story about Jonah is not about a young defiant man, nor a rough sea, a big fish, the big city of Nineveh gone bad, nor a shade tree that lives for only twenty-four hours. It’s about trusting God and letting God be in control of our lives–even if he changes his mind.
After Jonah carried out God’s orders to go to Nineveh, instead of celebrating his success, he chose to be angry that God didn’t follow through with his threats to wipe out the city. In frustration and in anger he said,”God, if you won’t kill them, kill me! I’m better off dead.” (Vs.3) To me, this reaction seems a bit like the saying “Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face.”
During Jonah’s pity party, he sat under a makeshift sun cover and waited to see if God would follow through with his threats on Nineveh. While he sat there, God arranged for a broad-leaf tree to quickly sprout and shelter Jonah. For the next day Jonah loved life. But then God sent a worm to kill the tree, and once again Jonah’s pleasure turned to anger over a tree he didn’t plant nor ask for.
Jonah’s story serves to remind us that we get the benefit of the fact God can and does change his mind. We can be grateful for this gift called grace.
Dear God, thank you for being in control of the grace you shower on us. Amen.