Swimming With Jonah: Don’t Be Angry Because God Loves You
How are you doing today? Can you believe how hot it has been this past week? Temperatures were in the 90s but it felt like triple digits….I wonder if you could have fried an egg outside….I hope you were able to stay cool and safe and took plenty of water breaks and took some time to go swimming. On a “cooler” subject, are you glad to be back in school? Some of you are only going for a half day while others of you are going fulltime and getting homework and attending school activities. It saddens my heart knowing that Summer Vacation is over but there are still a few more weeks of Summer to enjoy. As a matter of fact, this coming weekend, the nation will celebrate Summer one last time on a Holiday known as Labor Day. How will you celebrate Summer once last time for the year?
A couple of weeks ago, we learned a very important lesson from that famous guy who got swallowed up by a large fish. (We have been talking about him for several weeks now.) Do you remember this person’s name? JONAH!! That’s right! We have been talking about Jonah, and a couple of weeks ago Jonah was spewed out of the fish’s mouth and landed on the dry land of Nineveh (where he was supposed to go the first time instead of running away). While in Nineveh, Jonah shared an eight word message that warned the people of their potential destruction. The people heard his message and acted right away because they didn’t want to be in trouble with God. At the end of the story, the people of Nineveh repented and God showed them mercy and compassion. Here is how Chapter Three ends: “When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it” (Jonah 3:10). In another translation it says God “changed his mind and did not carry out the destruction he had threatened.”
The Ninevites knew they deserved God’s judgment. They repented, changed their heart and God showed them mercy. Mercy is a kind and forgiving treatment when we deserve much worse. God always wants us to repent, he doesn’t want to punish us, he wants us to turn to Him and have Him forgive us. God showed them mercy.
Like the people of Nineveh, God shows us mercy. When we sin God shows us MERCY. How does He show us mercy? Through his son Jesus. He sent Jesus to come to earth and be our Rescuer. Jesus lived a perfect life and then died on a cross as a sacrifice for all of our sins. Then he rose again three days later. Through God’s mercy, we get the gift of salvation in Jesus. God just asks us to do one thing, the same thing Jonah asked the Ninevites. Repent! Turn away from all the sin and bad stuff and turn to God. He loves you and He wants you and He’s got lots of mercy. When we do that and believe Jesus is the only one who saves us, we’ll get eternal life with God!
This is leads us to our final lesson from Jonah. The people of Nineveh were so happy when they realized that God had seen how sorry they were for their sins. After repenting of their sins, they praised God for His love and forgiveness: “God is good. He loves us and forgives us. Praise God!” However, Jonah wasn’t so happy. Jonah’s face grew red. He gritted his teeth. God had saved the people of Nineveh; the people Jonah did not like! God was not going to destroy the city of Nineveh after all!
Jonah clenched his fists. He was so angry. “I knew You would act like this!” yelled Jonah to God. Jonah fussed at God. “That’s why I tried to run away to Tarshish! You are a loving and merciful God. You are patient and kind. I knew You would change Your mind and not destroy these terrible people! Just go ahead and kill me!” Jonah shouted. “It would be better if I died since nothing I predicted is going to happen!”
The Lord answered Jonah. “Is it right for you to be angry like this?” He asked. Maybe something will happen to Nineveh after all, Jonah thought. He decided to hike out to where he could look
down on the city and watch. It was very hot on that hillside. Jonah made a little shelter with tree branches to protect himself from the sun. Then he sat down and waited.
Suddenly a most unusual thing began to happen. God made a vine with lots of big green leaves which began to grow beside Jonah’s shelter. Jonah stared at the plant. He had never seen anything like it! He had never seen anything grow so fast! Up and up it went. The stem grew longer and thicker. Big leaves appeared and uncurled one after another. The vine climbed all over Jonah’s little shelter. It made it a wonderfully shady place to sit. Jonah smiled to himself: Jonah was happy! It was nice not to be baking in the sun! Jonah was very pleased with the plant. He spent the whole night in his little shelter.
Early the next morning God prepared a worm that ate right through the stem of Jonah’s plant! Of course, the plant died, and it shriveled up. It could no longer protect Jonah from the sun’s rays. Then as the sun rose in the sky and the day got hotter and hotter, God sent a scorching wind to blow on Jonah. The wind blew and blew, and the sun beat down. Jonah was miserable and angry. “It would be better to die than endure this!” he exclaimed. Then God spoke to Jonah. “Is it right for you to be angry like this because the
plant died?” “Yes!” Jonah shouted. “You feel sorry about the vine, but you did nothing to make it grow there. And a plant doesn’t live very long anyway,” God said. “Nineveh has so many people, plus all the animals. I made them all, and I love them. Don’t I have more reason to feel sorry for them than you do to feel sorry for the vine that died?” Jonah was confused. He didn’t understand why God spared the people of Nineveh. But he had delivered God’s message. Years later, Jesus spoke of the work Jonah had done in Nineveh. (See Matthew 12:40, 41.)
The moral of the story is this: We must not be angry with what God is doing in our life; and since God is the creator of all things and people, God loves each and everyone of them. Our God is a loving and long-suffering God. He wants us to be loving, kind, and patient to the people around us too. He wants us to be happy when others join His family.
As we close our lessons on the Book of Jonah, I encourage you to remember this simple phrase: “I won’t be angry at God anymore because I know that God loves me and I am worth being saved.”
Your Friend, Holy Spirit!
September 17, 2023
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