Jonah Spewed His Anger
“for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster. Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.”
Jonah 4:2-3, ESV
Ever been so angry that if someone was to record you on video, you would be deeply embarrassed, ashamed to hear the words you said? In this honest record of Jonah’s prayer, we see his anger spew on the pages of scripture. Any observant reader could sense the sarcasm, the frustration, and the rage. When Jonah says… “for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster,” He wasn’t thanking God, or happy about it. He was angry at God and miserable about it.
Jonah didn’t want God to give grace, but to punish the guilty. He didn’t want God to grant mercy but to execute his justice, he didn’t want God to be slow to anger, but fast in a fury, he didn’t want God to be steadfast in love, but steadfast in hate. He didn’t want God to relent from disaster, but to bring total destruction to the city of Nineveh!
JONAH DOESN’T GET WHAT HE WANTS
It’s almost as if, in this moment of rage, it all comes out. He’s bitter and not much better than when he first started. He was perhaps remorseful for a moment, and truly repented in the belly of the whale, but here we see the deep level of dysfunction of the heart. His problem is not only his confusion about who God is or his bitterness, but it’s also that he doesn’t get what he wants. He’s throwing a man fit and acting like a child. By saying, “Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” He’s revealed just how unhealthy he really is. His emotional, spiritual, and relational health is not good. If Jonah doesn’t get his way, he’d rather die. This isn’t the first time he says something like that and it won’t be the last.
As Christians, God calls us to deal with our anger. When we don’t get what we want, we don’t quit or blow up! We keep trusting and obeying God. Even if we don’t understand or don’t like it.