The book of Jonah in the Bible includes one of the most told adventures, Jonah in the belly of the big fish. Jonah, had an interesting adventure. Yet that is not the focus of this post.
This post is about the epidemic of anger, hatred and/or self-loathing that ruins people’s lives and hinders their purpose even when they have no power to change the circumstance.
You didn’t build that! You didn’t plant that. Nor did you appoint the worm that ate it. This sub-plot, in the true story of Jonah in chapter 4, is possibly the main feature of the book. That is debatable, but it is definitely a big deal.
“Then Jonah went out from the city and sat east of it. There he made a shelter for himself and sat under it in the shade until he could see what would happen in the city. So the Lord God appointed a plant and it grew up over Jonah to be a shade over his head to deliver him from his discomfort. And Jonah was extremely happy about the plant. But God appointed a worm when dawn came the next day and it attacked the plant and it withered. When the sun came up God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on Jonah’s head so that he became faint and begged with all his soul to die, saying, “Death is better to me than life.” Then God said to Jonah, “Do you have good reason to be angry about the plant?” And he said, “I have good reason to be angry, even to death.” Then the Lord said, “You had compassion on the plant for which you did not work and which you did not cause to grow, which came up overnight and perished overnight. Should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand, as well as many animals?”
Jonah 4:5-11 NASB
Jonah was angry because the plant’s death impacted him. Yet God was the creator and destroyer of the plant. Jonah was less worried about the possible destruction of the people in the city than he was about the plant dying and his head getting scorched.
God created, owns and is in control of everything.
That includes our job, health, family and everything else.
When your plant grows, rejoice. When your neighbor’s plant grows, rejoice. When the plant dies, it’s okay to have an emotional response. But remember who owned the plant in the first place.
There is so much freedom in this. Knowing that God is in control should be a comforting feature of every circumstance we find ourself in.
It is not easy. Your head may get a sunburn and that is never a good thing. But, God has a plan. This body and the things that bring us comfort are of no importance in the long run.
The main thing for us is to be on mission and not get bogged down in the circumstance. Jonah’s circumstance included his indignation and desire to see the people of Nineveh destroyed and then pouting about it when God took away his shade and delayed the destruction of the city.
God had to teach him who is in control.
God gets to choose the purpose he has for you and me and the circumstances that we must face as we work in that purpose.
It makes no sense to sit and pout about the circumstance and delay your purpose. Have emotions, but don’t let them control you. Move forward and press on.