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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Seems like this might be helpful, but . . .

In the book of Jonah, Jonah eventually gives up and takes God's message to the people of Nineveh. Then God, like a jerk, forgives the people of Nineveh when they repent. This bothers Jonah as expressed in the final chapter of the book:

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 was still at home? That is why I was 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 this 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, I've been thinking of Jonah lately. Specifically, I've felt irritated by things going on around me, even though I have a suspicion that I'm the cause of many of the things bothering me. But, some of it is clearly not my fault. ["Clearly" is a legal term for "what I'm about to say may or may not be true, but I really wish that it was true."]

Sometimes it is helpful to read a passage of scripture that seems to parallel my life experience. Here, I could be the one shaking my fist at God because coming home late from work my video game (which I didn't buy, or ask for, or even receive on my birthday, but from a random act of kindness from my brother) didn't work. But then, I'd be left with the response, "Where do you get off?" Interestingly enough, the same response Job gets.

Doesn't feel helpful. Of course, that doesn't mean it isn't helpful.

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