Jonah 4:3 “Now, O Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.”
Have you ever had a really bad day? How about a bad week, or month, or even year? Perhaps your whole life seems to be going down the tubes. Well, that’s the kind of frustration and despair Jonah is feeling at the moment.
Let’s just review what poor Jonah has been through. First, his boss (God) gave him the worst assignment he could imagine. Jonah had to become a glorified delivery boy. He had to go and rub shoulders with the people he hated more than anything, and deliver God’s message. Now, if he’d known God was going to zap them all, he probably would have enjoyed the assignment. But no. He knew his boss better than that. He just had this sinking feeling in his stomach about the way things would turn out. And watching his most despicable enemy experience God’s mercy and compassion was just about the worst thing Jonah could imagine.
So he tried to quit his job. But his boss sent a storm to chase him down. Then, he decided to just take the plunge – literally. At least if he drowned, he wouldn’t have to do the thing he dreaded. But no, even that didn’t work out for him. God sent a giant fish to swallow him up and keep him safe – though quite uncomfortable – for a few days. Inside that fish, Jonah finally gave up. “Okay, God. I’ll do it. But I’m not gonna like it.”
Then, he gets washed up on shore. He is exhausted. He stinks. His skin is probably irritated and bleached out from the acids in the fish’s stomach. But does he get to spend a few days at the spa, to rest and recover?
Nope. He might as well get this over with. He dusts off his seaweed and starts walking. I’m not sure how long or how far he had to walk before he got to Nineveh, but considering he was already exhausted, it couldn’t have been a pleasant journey. And then, when he arrived, he did it. He delivered the message.
Sure enough, his worst fears were realized. Those nasty Ninevites repented, and God forgave them. Now, Jonah had to call them . . . oh, the shame . . . he had to call them his brothers.
Could things get any worse?
Not to Jonah’s way of thinking. He was ready to give up right then and there. “God, just kill me. At least if I’m dead, I’ll be in a better place. I can’t take any more.”
Hmmmm . . . I’ve been there.
Many of us have been at that place where we just say, “God, I can’t take any more. Just kill me now.”
Yet, God still had plans for Jonah. Important plans. And He has important plans for us, too.
Do you remember who wrote the book of Jonah? Yes, that’s right. Jonah wrote it. And his story has reminded people of God’s amazing compassion and unending mercy ever since. You see, God had bigger plans for Jonah than he could have even imagined.
But what if God had granted Jonah’s wishes? What if God had zapped the Ninevites?
What if God had zapped Jonah?
What if Jonah’s story had never been written?
Well, one thing’s for sure. People might have a hard time believing that God’s compassion is bigger than His judgment. Some people might never turn to God, because they think they’ve been too bad, they’ve done too much. They might never turn to Him, because they think it’s too late.
Jonah’s story tells us that it’s never too late to seek God’s forgiveness. His love is bigger, stronger, more intense than anything we have done. And nothing surprises God, either. He already knows all about our pasts. He loves us, and His goal is to rescue us from a destructive lifestyle. He doesn’t want to destroy anybody.
Jonah was tired, worn-out, exhausted, frustrated, mad . . . yet God wasn’t finished with Him yet. He had important plans for Jonah.
Hang in there, my friend. He has important plans for you, too.
Dear Father, Thank you for Jonah’s story. Sometimes, I feel like Jonah – tired, frustrated, ready to give up. At those times, please give me the energy to keep going. I want to accomplish Your purpose for my life.