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.” But God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?” “It is,” he said. “And I’m so angry I wish I were dead.” Jonah 4:8-9 (NIV).
So, it turns out, this was another miracle. Earlier, I speculated that Jonah could have been outside Ninevah for several weeks, allowing for natural growth of a vine to shade him. But I was wrong. The vine grew and withered in the space of a day. Perhaps it was like kudzu, which literally grows inches or even feet in a week. Or acacia, a tree found in the area around Ninevah, which can grow 30 feet in a year. But for it to happen in a day? That’s a miracle. To me, though, the far bigger miracle is God’s patience and mercy with Jonah.
In these verses, Jonah acts like a petulant child, or an American journalist. He’s angry about his situation and God’s apparent indifference to his emotions. He’s angry that his shade-plant died. He’s angry that he’s still alive, ‘suffering’ through all this. And he’s angry that God won’t make his wish come true.
Like the TV commercial says, Jonah needs a Snickers bar.
He’s being a jerk of (literally) Biblical proportions. He’s throwing a tantrum so severe that it’s recorded for all posterity. And he’s personally interacting with the God of Genesis and has the temerity enough to challenge Him.
What is God’s reaction? He offers Jonah the Snickers. He continues to reason with him, tries to teach him instead of bringing down the punishment Jonah deserves.
Reality check: it’s not even 7 AM here on the fruited plain and I’m already guilty of trying God’s patience. My sins aren’t many yet this morning, but they’re there; I’ve done them even if only in my mind. I’ve rebelled against God in my thoughts, and I’ve put myself in His place when I had no right to…just like Jonah. Just like you.
Ok, we need a whole box of Snickers.
Tasty as that would be, however, there’s a better way. It’s the one God was working to convince Jonah to take. Stop. Pray. Repent. Advance. Let go and let God, and trust that He knows what He’s doing even if it isn’t what we’d do. That way, when we have the candy bar, it’s a treat and not a reality check. That way, we don’t overlook the patient and true miracles God puts in our lives every day.
For further reading: Jonah 4:10
Lord God, thank You for Your holy patience with me. I don’t deserve it on my own, but You give to me anyway.
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