Devotional

A Father’s heart (Jonah 4:1-11)

But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry. 2 And he prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster. 3 Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” 4 And the Lord said, “Do you do well to be angry?” 5 Jonah went out of the city and sat to the east of the city and made a booth for himself there. He sat under it in the shade, till he should see what would become of the city. 6 Now the Lord God appointed a plant and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be a shade over his head, to save him from his discomfort. So Jonah was exceedingly glad because of the plant. 7 But when dawn came up the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the plant, so that it withered. 8 When the sun rose, God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint. And he asked that he might die and said, “It is better for me to die than to live.” 9 But God said to Jonah, “Do you do well to be angry for the plant?” And he said, “Yes, I do well to be angry, angry enough to die.” 10 And the Lord said, “You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. 11 And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?”

Jonah 4:1-11 ESV Bible Gateway

The great city of Nineveh repented and Jonah accomplished the mission God had given him successfully.   The story of Jonah should have ended in chapter 3 so we may call it a happy ending.  But there is chapter 4.  Jonah was extremely angry over God’s forgiveness to Nineveh’s repentance.  Yes, he finished his assignment, but there was nothing worth celebrating to him because he did not have the right motive and attitude to do this assignment to begin with! God was not done with his servant until He could get him fixed from the inside out.  Just like how the older son in the story of the Prodigal Son was bitter and grumpy when his father welcomed the ran away son who returned,  Jonah was also mad that the wicked nation was being spared by God.  Both characters, a child and a servant, lost their joy and suffered due to their wrong attitude and motive of their services!   Jonah knew a lot about God, but He didn’t really know a Father’s heart.  “You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. 11 And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?”  God just nailed it! For many,  that “120,000” might just be a number, but to the Father, it means each individual precious soul!  Each of them were fearfully and wonderfully made by Him, and He knows each one of  them by their names.  We are in a pandemic, and every day we see new numbers of COVID cases. What we see are numbers, but what the Father sees are each individual families and precious souls. “And should not I pity…? ” That was a question for Jonah to ponder, and should be the same question for us to consider.  What does the Father care in His heart?  I’ll end with a question here as well.  

Dear Heavenly Father,  reveal your heart to us!  Help your children and your servants to not only know about you and your missions for us, but also know You and Your heart. Show us your glory which is full of goodness and compassion.  Lord, set us up with the right attitude and the same passion as Yours!  How you love, we’ll love; how you serve, we’ll serve. 


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