I was reading the story of Jonah today and it just made me think, “What if I don’t want what God wants for me?” Jonah 1:1-3 states, “The word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me.” 3 But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. So he went down to Joppa, found a ship which was going to Tarshish, paid the fare and went down into it to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.”
God wanted Jonah to go to Nineveh and cry against it. Clearly that wasn’t something Jonah wanted to do as a part of his plans in life given he ran away from God. Of course if you’ve read through the story, that didn’t work out to well for him. He got trapped in a bad storm and eaten by a fish. He then prays to God for help, God gets him out of the fish, and he eventually does what God had told him to do.
I have to admit, I didn’t really understand the ending of the story that well. As best I could read, it seemed Jonah was mad that God showed compassion to Nineveh after proclaiming that Nineveh would be overthrown in forty days. Then God shows through the plant that Jonah was happy for it giving him shade, that if he can have compassion for the plant even though he didn’t work for it or cause it to grow, shouldn’t God have compassion for the people of Nineveh, who do not know their right hand from their left, or many of the animals.
My thoughts on Jonah
If anyone can unpack that ending with a little more clarity than I attempted, feel free to do so. But to tie this all together, it’s all really interesting to me. Jonah didn’t want to do what God wanted him to do in his life, and ended up in bad situations for it. Jonah turns back to God and does what God wanted him to do, but he kind of still ends up dissatisfied as maybe he thought he would be when he chose to flee in the first place, though the text doesn’t give us any information why he chose to flee. Maybe he was concerned with what he would inevitably be dissatisfied with happening with the outcome of Nineveh being sparred by God, though that would be incredibly clairvoyant of him, so I would put that in the unlikely category.
What would have been really interesting to see in this story is what Jonah thought or responded to God after God said what He said about having compassion. Because there’s no more to the story than that, I can only assume Jonah understood the lesson that God was giving him. Perhaps what’s mainly to be understood is Jonah really had no reason to be displeased with the outcome from obeying God’s command, because good things happened as a result of what He did.
It seems ultimately if one doesn’t obey God the outcomes of our lives turn out worse for us. Even if the path one is destined to go on is not particularly one they’re thrilled about God allowing (or possibly directing) events to happen in a way that guides us in a certain direction, or in the grandest of ways directly commanding us to do a certain thing or take a certain path, it all inevitably leads to good results when one chooses to obey God. And of course good results are better than bad results.
What do you think of Jonah’s story?
Peace to all who are in Christ.