I'm really feeling a bit ( okay, a lot ) like Jonah today. Running away from what God has placed in my life...angry that things aren't turning out the way I expected them to...feeling woe-is-me...you get the picture. Yep, Jonah and I have a lot in common.
I always have wondered what happened after the Lord spoke to Jonah that last time at the end of the book of Jonah. If it were me, my mind would have gone back to the miraculous thing of the giant fish; how God planned everything just so. He knew ahead of time that Jonah would be a coward. He knew Jonah was going to run away, but ( and wow, this is amazing ) God also knew that Jonah would surrender. Jonah would get swallowed up, taken to the bottom of the sea, and he would have a prayer meeting. He would go out on the word of the Lord and call Nineveh to repentance. Then, in the human frailty of his mind he went up on a hill to watch God destroy the city. When God didn't do what Jonah expected God to do, he was angry. He threw a tantrum, a pity party. God took pity on him, spoke to him, tried to redirect his thinking. I wonder what Jonah did?
We do that too. We rely on what our interpretation of a situation is. We go on what we think of the circumstance, telling God " No! I don't want to do that! ". He sees our stubborn way and puts us in a spot where all we can do is pray. God answers our prayer and then we complain about the results. We can be so guilty of making a mental image of what something ought to be like. When it doesn't come about how we think it should, we get bent out of shape. ( Wow! This sure stings! But it's the truth... ) How to deal with that? There is no clear answer from the book of Jonah ( that I can see ), since it cuts off so abruptly, but for me, it is reminding myself that God's plan is greater than my expectation or interpretation. Jonah's prayer from the fish's belly speaks volumes to me:
“In my distress I called to the Lord,
and he answered me.
From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help,
and you listened to my cry.
You hurled me into the depths,
into the very heart of the seas,
and the currents swirled about me;
all your waves and breakers
swept over me.
I said, ‘I have been banished
from your sight;
yet I will look again
toward your holy temple.’
The engulfing waters threatened me,
the deep surrounded me;
seaweed was wrapped around my head.
To the roots of the mountains I sank down;
the earth beneath barred me in forever.
But you, Lord my God,
brought my life up from the pit.
“When my life was ebbing away,
I remembered you, Lord,
and my prayer rose to you,
to your holy temple.
“Those who cling to worthless idols
turn away from God’s love for them.
But I, with shouts of grateful praise,
will sacrifice to you.
What I have vowed I will make good.
I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.’”
I especially love that very last part " Those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God's love for them. But I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. I will say, ' Salvation comes from the Lord. '" Amen.